Your Monthly Check-Up: Defending Your Eating Habits

It’s no secret that obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes are huge problems in this country, among many other ailments. The good news is that most of these illnesses can be managed through diet and exercise. It seems a new diet comes out every day, but the best defense is a good offense. Eating well and getting enough exercise and rest are surefire combatants to many of the health problems Americans are suffering from.

“Eating clean,” “organic” and “grass-fed” are just a few of the current buzzwords in the world of healthy eating, and many people are starting to get on this “down with junk food” bandwagon. But it’s not easy, especially when it comes to eating with family, friends and in the workplace, when the lure of pastries, fast food lunch breaks and happy hour appetizers loom large.

An article in the September issue of “Experience L!fe” magazine, titled “Food Fight” by contributing writer Jon Spayde, tackles this very subject. In his article, Spayde consults with food blogger Darya Pino Rose, PhD, about the barriers to overcome when deciding to switch to a healthier eating lifestyle as well as some of the strategies for success.

Spayde and Rose outline six main barriers people may face when embarking on a new eating routine:

  • Your own rigidity: going fast and hard instead of easing into it or being more reasonable
  • The urge to convert: offering unsolicited advice and thus turning people off
  • Feelings of ambivalence: worrying if you can even stick with your new goals
  • Fear of not fitting in: maintaining your resolve at dinner parties and out with friends
  • Difference of opinion about what’s really healthy: others may be concerned that you’re not getting the proper nutrition
  • Reluctance to get support: feeling unsure about revealing your decision to others

These six barriers present challenges, especially when making the decision alone and not as part of a family or workplace eating overhaul. “It’s natural, especially in the early stages of a new eating pattern, to try to obey every food rule to the letter and do everything perfectly – which can lead to a sour, anxious attitude on your part and trigger defensiveness in others,” the article states. Also, in your newfound excitement about eating healthy, you may inadvertently (or perhaps on purpose) offer advice to your family, friends and colleagues that is unsolicited, which can be off-putting, alienating and make you come across as holier-than-thou, the article states.

You also may suffer feelings of insecurity when out to dinner with others and not being able to indulge in the less-healthy options you used to. Your friends and colleagues may question your recent choices, for example, “You say you’re a vegetarian? Where are you going to get your protein?” or “You’ve given up dairy? Won’t you miss the probiotics in yogurt?” the article states. These situations may become overwhelming and tempt you to return to your old habits to avoid such confrontations.

But Spayde and Rose have put together an arsenal of strategies to help you meander this new eating world and equip you with the tools you need to answer questions, make healthy decisions and stick with your eating plan. First of all, realize it’s not about you. “People who approach you antagonistically about food are probably insecure about their own eating habits,” says Rose in the article. Also, framing your responses to these types of questions will help curb some of that insecurity. Rose says, “If you frame the explanation of your eating habits in terms of ‘I don’t eat that awful stuff,’ you’ll antagonize. But if you frame it as ‘I’m eating differently as a kind of experiment to see how I feel,’ you take the value judgment out of it.”

Another way to avoid insecurity or awkwardness regarding your new eating routine, according to the article, is to tell people ahead of time, for example, the hosts of upcoming dinner parties or other such events. People appreciate this and will be more understanding than if you show up with your own food unexpectedly. Spayde and Rose also state that emphasizing real pleasure is a great way to offset some of these questioning looks and comments, too. According to Rose, “You can say, ‘Hey, pizza is great, but so is this salad, believe it or not. I love how it makes me feel. I’m not trying to restrict myself or show off my willpower – I am really into this.’ Emphasizing happiness can really disarm a critic.”

Also, Spayde and Rose suggest choosing your battles. “If it’s my grandmother’s birthday and someone whips up her favorite apple pie and everyone is having a piece (and it’s not a proven allergen or won’t trigger a negative physical reaction), that might be a time for me to have a piece,” says Rose in the article. “There’s definitely something to be said for being somewhat flexible at those times when nutrition isn’t the main value - when it’s a matter of love or tradition.”

The bottom line is, the benefits of switching to or sticking with a healthier way of eating far outweigh any negative opinions or awkward situations that doing so might initially cause. As eating healthier becomes the norm – and hopefully it will – there will be less need to employ strategies for success, so you can spend more time planning your meals and shopping for healthy food and less time planning your counterattack when the questions start flying. Be firm with your decisions. Who knows? You may just change a few friends’ or colleagues’ minds in the process!

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Since 1995, the first Friday of March has been designated Employee Appreciation Day! Why not go the extra mile today for those who go the extra mile (or more) for your business? Here are some ideas:

  • Treat your employees to lunch
  • Take your team out for happy hour (it's Friday, after all)
  • Let them take off early - with pay
  • Hire a massage therapist, chef or yoga instructor to come into the office
  • Leave flowers, candy or a personal note on your employees’ desks
  • Sports and movie tickets and other entertainment rewards are always appreciated

Recognition is a powerful motivator, and it will mean a lot to your staff if you do something nice to thank them for all their hard work.

Who knows? Maybe they'll actually remember Boss's Day this year!

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You Can Thank Us Later

Happy March 2nd, everyone! “Why is that significant?” you ask. Well, it’s the first Friday in March, and if you ask your staff, they will remind you that it is Employee Appreciation Day! But don’t let on that you forgot. Just tell them that you were “testing them,” assure them that you have a very special surprise lined up, and then lock yourself in your office and Google “Employee Appreciation Day ideas.” You’re welcome.

Employee Appreciation Day was born in 1995 and is always the first Friday of March. According to Recognition Professionals International, one of the organization’s founding board members, in association with Workman Publishing, created the day to put the focus toward employees in all industries.

We all know that recognition is the most powerful motivator. Everyone loves cash, but it isn’t memorable as a reward and holds no trophy value – and let’s face it, it usually goes toward a bill. A kind word or unique experience creates a lasting memory and comes with a great story. “I was awarded this [insert award] from my boss for [insert good deed]” is much more interesting than “Oh yeah, I saved up and bought this [insert material possession/vacation/extravagant dinner].”

So why not recognize the hard work of your dedicated employees, without whom you may as well kiss your business goodbye. Here are some ideas we’ve already Googled for you:

·         Treat your employees to a meal

·         Take your team out for happy hour (it is Friday, after all)

·         Send them home early with pay

·         Hire a massage therapist, manicurist or yoga instructor to come into the office

·         Leave flowers, candy or a personal note on your employees’ desks

·         Gift cards, movie tickets and other entertainment rewards are always nice

Remember that you don’t need to wait until the first Friday in March to recognize your employees. Praise, surprises and small tokens of your appreciation can and should happen throughout the year. But since today is a nationally recognized day, it should not be overlooked.

Once you have your treat lined up, make sure you note “Employee Appreciation Day” on your calendar for next March and avoid the awkwardness for years to come!

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Engagement Down in the Ad Agency World

You hear about ad agencies being a place full of creatives and creative workspaces for some organizations. A recent article from Advertising Age suggests that employee engagement within many agencies is actually down.

In an article published March 8th a bottom line statement noted that agencies in general don't do a good job of communicating, training or motivating employees. As Andrew Bennet stated within that article:

"We are a people-focused industry but we don't embrace that with our employees."

The ad world is an industry almost famous for its turnover rate. Though these organizations push the fact that talent is the number one asset, it seems to be a mentality not held well for many agencies. In a 4A's and Arnold survey, 90% of the employees within those agencies felt that they had to train themselves in what they do from day-to-day. They didn't feel motivated or very engaged by their upper management.

"The average Starbucks barista gets more training than the average communications employee," Benett said.

Employee turnover is a costly business endeavor. No matter what industry you are in, employee communication is a crucial part of business success. In the article, Bennet is quoted as saying how revenue is taking a priority over people for many agencies in the biz.

If you put the people first, the revenue will follow suit. Not having to front the costly recruiting and re-training will cut costs significantly for any organization. Engagement is a crucial component for a company bottom line.

What do you all think?

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