Posted in food, know better do better, physical health

The sad adult-y-ness of limiting snacks

Dried mango and macadamia nuts.

These are my two current favorite snacks.

I can eat them together or separately, and I can eat them in significant quantity.

Costco sells both.

For a while, I stopped buying the mango altogether—it’s easier when it’s just not in the house—and I was just reintroduced to macadamia nuts a couple of weeks ago. They’re much more delicious than they were when I was a kid.

Earlier this week, I bought a bag of each at Costco. Yum!

But, in an effort not to exist solely on these two things, I measured out portions based on the nutrition facts panel. Put the nuts in little jars. Put the mango in repurposed tomato paste jars.

I have taught and written about portion control many times, and yet I was still astounded at how little there was in my servings.

It’s for the best. And most days, I’ve only had one jar of each.

Eating things like chips, popcorn, nuts, cereal out of the container is dicey for many people. Measure it out, put the bag away, and stick to the portion you measured.

The bonus to this is that the original container will last much longer. Fend off a little overindulgence, save a few pesos. Not an entirely bad deal.

Posted in about me, ebb & flow, food, physical health

The former deliciousness of peanut brittle

For a long time, peanut brittle was one of my favorites. And it was an infrequent treat, which made it even more delightful.

It’s been years, maybe decades, since I had peanut brittle.

There was some at work the other day.

I took a piece. Or two…

And you know what? It wasn’t that delicious.

I relayed this story to a friend who reacted with sadness, but no! It’s not sad at all!

Peanut brittle is crap. It’s (formerly) tasty crap, but it’s still crap.

And now, if it shows up in the teachers’ lounge again, I won’t have to expend any energy to pass it by, because it’s not delicious.

It’s not the first time this has happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. The list of things that are no longer delicious just got one thing longer.

And yes, there have been a few things that I had for the first time in years and yes, they were still amazing. (A cream doughnut from McMillan’s Bakery immediately comes to mind. Only ate a couple of bites but YUM.)

But it’s OK to let your taste buds get pickier about junk food. Your body will thank you for it.

Posted in audience participation, connections, differences, hope, know better do better, mental health, mindset, motivation, parenting, physical health, thoughtfulness, vulnerability

Workplace wellness

Today’s post is full of broad sweeping statements. Of course they are not true for every individual in every category. But I’m not going to make a disclaimer in every paragraph because it’s unwieldy to read.

Many companies are introducing (or have already introduced) wellness incentive plans regarding various biomarkers of their employees (with questionable legality).

But stress is seemingly worse for your health than any of the markers they’re measuring.

How many employers are actively seeking to reduce their employees’ stress levels?

None? Benefit of the doubt and say a few?

This embodies so many facets of America.

1. We’re unhealthy. We eat badly; we move insufficiently; we’re overweight and underslept; we lack meaningful community; we view vulnerability—necessary for connection—as a weakness; we prioritize work over play, over rest, over family; in addition to all of the -isms that culturally define us.

2. We don’t believe in health care as a right. Which, on a tangent, is mostly sick care. (For more details on that, see point #1.) Only people who work the right jobs for the right people for the right number of hours get to have health insurance. And even then, many of those people still have to pay for it. Sometimes a lot. And pay even more for their families to be covered. Which doesn’t even cover all of what’s potentially needed.

3. Companies are not interested in their people. They are interested in money. So they do whatever they can to siphon more money to the top people. (Because, despite current mindset, companies are not actually in themselves people. They’re just run by people. So we could more accurately say that the people at the top of companies are disinterested in everyone else in the company, so long as they continue to live large.)

Whether that’s hiring fewer salaried employees and expecting them to work more (sometimes way more) than 40 hours per week, or hiring more hourly employees part time so they don’t have to pay for benefits, or paying as little as possible, or countless other possibilities, the money needs to pour up.

It’s a giant mindset problem. A cultural problem. A mental health problem. A shaming problem. A physical health problem. An economic problem.

I don’t know how to fix it.

But I do know that I can contact people in charge of stuff (whether it’s government officials or company leaders), and I can vote. (Are you registered? If not, open another browser window and go do it now! People taking it all for themselves depend on your apathy to maintain or advance their position.)

And I can do my best to be the change I want to see, live my life out loud, and hope others join me. (And they do. They always do.)

Be the change. Be self-aware, even (especially) when it sucks. Be open. Be vulnerable. But be fierce.

(Except on the days that you just need to lay on the couch. Then just lay.)

Posted in ebb & flow, mental health, mindset, physical health

You don’t have to be amazing

A meme crossed my path. All caps, lots of colors — the kind of design I might be into…

YOU DID NOT WAKE UP TODAY TO BE AVERAGE

I have a couple of thoughts about that.

1. Math.

2. Maybe you did.

By definition, we can’t all be above average.

If we’re using the math-based definition, typically accepted as the mean, we can’t all be higher than it because then, by definition, it would be raised.

If we’re using the definition that makes “average” somewhat synonymous with “normal” or “usual,” we still can’t all better or different than that. If we’re all different than normal, then the definition of normal changes.

And maybe you did wake up today to be average. Maybe life has been terrible and to have a typical-for-other-people day would be amazing. Maybe so many out of the ordinary things—good or bad—have been happening that you’re ready for calm. Maybe for any one of a zillion reasons, finding a groove and hanging out in it for a while would be lovely.

I know a lot of people who would love to hang out in a comfortable groove for a while.

We don’t have to be The Best Ever at everything we do. Within the bounds of lots of asterisks (that I’m not going to ramble about today), doing a good but not amazing job at work is good enough. Being a good but not as good as you feel like maybe other parents are parent is good enough. Preparing decent food for yourself and whoever else you’re feeding is good enough.

Get some exercise. It doesn’t have to be hard core. Eat healthy food. You’ll feel better. Get enough sleep. Or as close as you can get. (There are so many hurdles, some of which we can’t control.) Love your people. Accept that sometimes, life isn’t going to permit all of those things to happen every day.

And when you have energy or drive to do more, do it. Don’t let other people steal your energy. If you want to spend time creating something beautiful or different or silly or useful or just plain amazing, do it, and don’t let the haters tell you that’s not how you should spend your time. (I hate the “too much free time” means of dismissing people.)

But waking up to be better than average every day? That’s stressful. Let that shit go, even if it’s in all caps and lots of colors.

Posted in mental health, mindset, physical health, thoughtfulness

What doesn’t kill you

We’ve all heard this before:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Except: no.

It’s not inherently or necessarily true.

So many things that literally or figuratively try to kill us don’t leave us better or stronger.

Cancer didn’t kill me. (Hooray!) Am I stronger? Certainly not physically. I trained with a trainer for several years after treatment ended and was never as strong as I was the day I was admitted to the hospital.

Still waiting on the potential long-term side effects. It’s only been 12 years, and those are estimated to kick in after 15 to 20.

I’m sure my gut flora was completely wiped out and may or may not ever recover. (There’s a growing body of evidence that gut bacteria are ridiculously important to our physical and mental health.)

Mentally stronger? Eh. Sometimes negative situations help you to learn and grow, and sometimes they give you PTSD. Life doesn’t need to be at “trying to kill you” level in order for you to learn and grow.

What makes us stronger? Productive challenges.

Things that are hard, that challenge us but aren’t off the deep end. Sometimes we can create these ourselves. Certainly life offers us ample options for growth.

The thing is: whether you choose to grow or choose to become withdrawn or bitter has little to do with the scope of the challenge.

So. Let’s get rid of this saying, shall we?