Sunday, February 27, 2011

Practice What You Preach Much?

What was the last piece of advice you gave someone?   Do you practice what you preach?

Between this blog and my kids and work, I have lots of opportunities to nag at people give helpful guidance.

One of my favorite things about having the blog in particular is the public reminder to practice what I preach.  Instant accountability.  It’s the kind of thing which keeps my hand out of the candy jar at work because I know some of my co-workers JUST read about how I’m eating less sugar. 

As a side note, here's a little tip I discovered quite by accident: 
        Keep the sweet temptation (which of course you only buy for everyone else) in a tin container with a very noisy metal latch.  Mine came pre-programmed with a special frequency.  Listen.  *clang* *clang* 

Hear it? It's the sound of accountability saying, "You again?!  Seriously?"

The reality is that whether we are helping ourselves or others, sometimes it takes messing up a few times to get it right.   Even once we figure out how to do it, we gotta practice.  Fall down. Stand up.  Take any hero of yours in any field and most likely they didn’t come out of the womb naturally accomplished at what they are great at doing.

So, I take the expression "practice what you preach" to heart.  Nobody's perfect.

Still, it pays to at least try to heed our own advice.  Even better, next time you find yourself in a tough place ask, "What would I tell my best friend to do in this situation?"

As I'm always tellin' ya:  True life balance is internal.

Quite often we have the answers we need inside us.  We just need to listen.


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Saturday, February 19, 2011

New Year's Resolution Sealed with a KISS

Recently, my daughter declaimed, "Did you know that 75% of people who make New Year's resolutions break them within three months?"

Miss M. has a knack for finding and repeating such trivia.  Kinda like that kid in Jerry Maguire who spouted, "Did you know that the human head weighs 10 pounds?"

Some might be shocked by that statistic.  No, not the one about the head.  The one about the slackers New Year's resolution people.   I'm not shocked.  I'm impressed.   Most people I know can't even remember their resolutions by about mid-February.

Personally I have a vague recollection of saying something about eating less sugar.   To be fair, I made this resolution after two(ish) glasses of Mo√ęt and a piece of carrot cake.  

Thanks to Miss. M's reminder, I now have another month to join the ranks of the party poopers more disciplined 25%.

There is a plethora of information out there about the gylcemic index as well as various formulas for banishing sweet stuff from your life. 

Apparently Dr. Oz has a 28-Day Sugar Detox Challenge and I have to say, if I was going to follow a "program," that one looks pretty good.   I'm just not up to that level of complexity right now.  I'm in more of what they call "KISS" mode. 

KISS = Keep It Simple Stupid.

Once things settle down a bit, I'll go for the Oz degree in being sugar-free.  I promise when that happens, I'll share the gritty day-by-day details on my blog.  Then, watch out Xylotol -- I'll be coming to gitcha!

The first step towards any change is AWARENESS.

Of course there are lots of hidden sugars in the food we eat.  However, my current focus is on the one that is actually called sugar.   It doesn't try to hide behind a secret code name because it knows we aren't that smart yet.    Sugar especially knows we are suckers for food packages with words like "smart" or "healthy." 

Case in point is the breakfast drink my husband (aka "Big D") keeps buying because the front of the container says it has "100% of the day's essential nutrients."   Sweet!   No really, it's sweet.  Too sweet.  Twenty-six grams of sugar.   Seriously, dude?

I'll admit that I've fallen victim as well.   I once discovered that the meal bars I was buying were more like candy bars.  They could only count as a meal if you usually eat chocolate chip cookies for lunch. 

Before I found out I was allergic to yogurt, I was eating one that had 32 grams of sugar in it. 

"But yogurt is so healthy!" I cried.    Yeah, not so much.  I'd been had.

So, it comes down to reading the labels and being honest about what we're eating.  Preferably before tying on the feed bag.  Why let the food lie to us?   Why lie to ourselves?   On New Year's Eve, I'm sure my resolution statement was followed by some rationalization that I was already on the right track eating carrot cake.    I know, right? 

Anyhoo, my new personal goal is to eat less than 28 grams of sugar per day and make it count.

By "make it count" I mean to make a conscious choice to eat sugar and feel good about it.   If I want a cookie or a handful of Skittles, I eat them.  But no surprises. 

Whether it's candy, ketchup, eggplant meat(less)balls or whatever, I look at the label, read where it says the word "sugar" and how many grams per serving.  I consider the quantity I am consuming and add to the day's total.  Keepin' it simple.

Of course there are know-it-alls out there who will say stuff like, "An apple doesn't have a label but does have a lot of sugar." 

It's a freakin' apple, people. 

Maybe it's flawed oversimplification on my part, but any food which reaches my lips exactly as it came from Mother Nature is a free pass. 

When eating out, I order foods that contain ingredients I know fit within my daily goals.  There are a number of great apps and tools for getting this kind of data.  Two of my faves are MyNetDiary and FitDay.  

I'm used to food tracking (from when I lost the first 60 lbs) but if you're someone for whom such tools get outside the realm of KISS, here is an easier strategy:

Break down the meal into segments.  Then, pick a maximum of only one item in which to invest the "sacred grams."

For example, consider the following possible sugar snares:

       1. Beverage - anything which contains alcohol, juice, non-diet soda or dairy.

       2. Main Course - anything with a sauce or a glaze or anything with the word "sweet" in the recipe; also gotta watch the condiments.

       3. Dessert - seriously, I have to explain this?  It's dessert for Pete's sake.  Don't kid yourself.

Pick your one poison (as they say) and then enjoy it.

Keep it simple.  Pick your battles.  Know thine enemy.


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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Value Spectrum

Recently I attended a party where I was the only one not to have seen a single episode of LOST, CSI, West Wing, ER, Gossip Girl, Law & Order or a bunch of other shows I've never even heard of.

You probably understand not watching a lot of TV because of time. I can't possibly be Supermom, career woman, student, volunteer, self-health freak, freelance Life Balance Strategist AND a couch potato. It's easy to give the "no time" excuse when I'm lost about LOST.

Yet, I know that "no time" is really what we call in Salesland, a lazy objection. It's the "no budget" of life balance.

For those who have never carried a bag (harkening back to a day when salestypes actually had a bag o' goods), "no budget" is the easiest way to end a potential sale.

Without turning this post into a sales tutorial, the easiest response is, "Okay, thanks. Keep us in mind for the future." And then move on to the next rejection. Easiest... and yet not so much, since finding and starting over with a new prospect can be more difficult than overcoming objections. Definitely not the path to success.

When it comes to life balance challenges, the easy way out is to say, "no time."

I know I should exercise more but I don't have the time. I know I should eat healthier but I don't have the time. Meditate - no time. Read more books - no time. Go back to school - no time. Get organized - no time. Be more romantic - no time. Create a detailed financial plan so when I say "no budget" I know how lazy an objection it really is - no time.

You get the idea. We may even know that these things will actually help us but we tell ourselves we don't have time to deal with it.

The most basic way to overcome an objection is to say, "If *insert objection* wasn't an issue, would you do it?"

Sales 101, I know. I can hear some of my co-workers groan as I type this. But it's applicable, even in life balance.

Regarding my TV issue, some astute person at a cocktail party might ask me, "If you had the time, would you watch CSI: Miami?" In response to which, I'd take a sip of my Cosmopolitan martini (since I also sometimes catch old late night repeats of Sex & the City) and say, "Nope."

The truth is I just don't enjoy popular TV dramas. They actually kinda stress me out. Maybe it's because I'm too empathic, not sure.

But you can see it's really not about time; it's about value. Value in all things, whether you're talking widgets, life balance or television, is individual. People value different things for different reasons. There's no magic formula. In Salesland, it's as much an art as a science figuring out exactly how each company, department and individual perceives value.

Personally, I most enjoy a specific genre of television: competitive reality shows. Survivor, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef (or Iron Chef or Chopped), Project Runway. Stuff other people, including my husband, consider a complete waste of time. (I can now also hear the groan of my hard-working actor friends.)

It's also about prioritization. There's really never a moment in my life where I prioritize TV above other things. As much as I enjoy a good American Idol showdown, I'm not going to give up a night out or time to write so as not to miss an episode.

As in business, there's a spectrum of value. The key in presenting something new is to figure out where it would most likely sit on that spectrum (if at all) and then figure out how to elevate it's position of value. Sometimes this means moving other things farther down the list, displacing them altogether or somehow allowing them to share priority placement.

When it comes to television, we are lucky to have online options as well as magical recording devices which no longer need bulky tapes or keep us up at night flashing 12:00 -- 12:00 -- 12:00 -- 12:00 -- 12:00 -- . TV has accomplished that rare "have your cake and eat it too" solution. No wonder it's a trillion dollar industry. Still not going to get me to watch CSI, but I can watch the shows I do value whilst walking on my treadmill, making dinner or driving to work. (Just kidding.)

The life balance lesson for you is about overcoming your own "lazy objections" especially in regards to taking better care of yourself.

Can you honestly answer "yes" to the question, "If you did have the time, would you do it?"

Look at your value spectrum. Where does exercise or eating better or meditating (or whatever) fit on that scale? What's above it? Thinking about both value and prioritization, is that the picture of your "best life"? Is it sustainable?

The coolest thing of all in this scenario is that you are both the salesperson and the customer. You have control over the entire transaction. You can tap into creative solutions which work for you in unique ways. You control the outcome.

Don't sell yourself short.   Remember:  Increased confidence brings increased capacity.

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