Ted Talk Friday: Ending the pursuit of perfection

So many people live their lives pursuing perfection, I have addressed this topic in depth before, but believe it is worthy of endless discussion. One of my good friends passed this Ted Talk on to me after we chatted about the value of self-care. I love this talk’s approach to self-love through self-care practices; the notion of self-love can often feel so abstract, but thinking of it in terms of self-care is very helpful and concrete. This talk touches on so many issues–body image, social media, relationships–so fluidly. I hope you enjoy!

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Do you think of self-care as self-love in action? Do you agree with Iskra?

The Questionable Science of Nutrition

We know that nutrition plays a large role in our health, but in all honesty, I don’t think we truly know much more than that. What about nutrition science, you ask? Well, it’s not simply science. It’s also a lot of lobbying, policy, Dr. Oz, and business interests. For example, the dairy industry has convinced us that milk is a necessity for healthy growth and bones, yet there are few real, reputable studies to back the claim. Large scale studies have shown that female milk drinkers even face an increased risk of fractures later in life. Keep in mind that milk is not necessarily related to the increased risk, but it certainly shows that drinking milk may not have the protective power we are told it has.

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This problem extends far beyond “Got Milk?” campaigns; there are so many misconceptions surrounding nutrition, especially when nutrition is so heavily influenced by business interests. Since March is National Nutrition Month, I thought this was the perfect time to share my thoughts on the current state of nutrition. And it’s a mess.

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While I am not a nutritionist or registered dietitian, I do consider myself a scientist and strive to be an informed consumer, but being an informed consumer is FAR from easy. Those nutrition articles in Shape magazine, or even in reputable news sources or some research journals, are not always accurate. Those clinical studies shown on websites may not be factual. Many companies hire an external group to conduct studies, which means that many of those studies are funded by the brand and designed in a way to produce the most convincing results to support the product’s claims.

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Mark Twain said it first.

I feel like this post has been a bomb of negativity, but I think it is so important to address. My advice for you is to always look for scholarly sources (peer-reviewed medical journals) for information, and make sure to read the note on any potential conflicts of interest the study or researchers might have. Beyond that, listen to your body. All of the nutrition advice in the world can’t compare to the specific ways your body functions. I think this is part of the challenge in the field, everyone’s body is different. We process and metabolize foods so differently depending on genes, the bacteria in our gut microbiome, or our past dietary choices. Keep this in mind, and take those nutrition articles with a grain of salt–something that may not be so bad for you after all.

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References:

Michaëlsson, K., Wolk, A., Langenskiöld, S., Basu, S., Lemming, E. W., Melhus, H., & Byberg, L. (2014). Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies. Bmj, 349, g6015.

 

Ted Talk Friday: Grit

I think grit is what differentiates people who excel versus individuals who do well and “make it by.” Everyone I know who has achieved amazing things has an immense amount of grit. While hard work is not always everything–I don’t think that people who struggle simply aren’t trying–grit is the key to accomplishing many tasks. You’ll notice that this talk ties in very well with last week’s Ted Talk on growth mindset with Dr. Carol Dweck. Grit is so important, especially for people who don’t feel particularly gifted with one skill or “special” talent. Being smart, funny, or gifted is not everything…it’s about putting in the work.

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Do you feel like you have grit? Where did you learn it?

On Being Nice

I am lucky in that I am not often confronted by individuals who are simply mean. I typically pretend that those people do not exist, but every once in a while I get a very ugly wake up call. This past weekend I was studying at the local public library. As I packed up my things and began browsing the DVD collection by the check-out desk, I couldn’t help but overhear a terrible conversation. A library patron was indignantly (and loudly) attacking the librarian saying she was “sighing” and had “such an attitude.” And she went on and on. It was 4:40pm and the library closes at 5pm.

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While I did not see the full interaction, I did see the entire scene of the patron criticizing the librarian for a solid five minutes straight at a volume that seemed to echo throughout the library. I work part-time in retail, and I know first-hand how humiliating these experiences can be. She was trapped behind the desk; she couldn’t say anything in response as the employee, yet had to stand there and listen. I know I would have been in tears after those five minutes.

These are the moments when it is important to remember we are all human; maybe the librarian had a bad day, maybe she was exhausted and waiting the twenty minutes until closing time, or maybe she is just a grumpy person, but none of these things make it acceptable for someone to treat her so poorly. We owe respect and kindness to everyone.

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While this was not a momentous event by any means, it represents a microcosm of something that I find deeply important: treat others the way you want to be treated. Be nice. Be thoughtful. Be compassionate. It is easy to get caught up in the moment at frustrating times like this, but taking a step back and acting with compassion will always lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.

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What is your take on kindness? How do you practice compassion, even when you’re frustrated?

 

 

Ted Talk Friday: Emotional First Aid

I LOVE the idea of emotional first aid. It sounds bizarre, but this Ted Talk does a great job of explaining the importance of practicing self-care from a young age. In mental health, we often focus on treatment and solving problems once they begin. Unfortunately, this does not allow us to prevent issues. The vast differences in how we treat mental vs. physical illness is striking. If we learn how to take better care of ourselves, cope more effectively, and provide a space to discuss mental wellbeing, we can both prevent potential crises and increase mental wellbeing overall–sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the talk!

https://embed.ted.com/talks/guy_winch_the_case_for_emotional_hygiene

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What do you think of mental first aid? Can you imagine a world where we give mental health the same priority as physical health?

Ted Talk Friday: Givers and Takers

Adam Grant is an amazing researcher and writer; I loved his book “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success”. The book is basically an extended version of his talk that I’ve posted here today. This is a great introduction into the world of behavioral economics. Grant does a great job of sharing the basic types of people and explaining altruism, and how you can use the information to your advantage in the workplace or in everyday life. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I do!

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Do you think you are a giver, a taker, or a matcher? Why?

Why Plant-Based?

I’ve made a greater effort to choose plant-based options over the past few months. While everyone is different, I wanted to share a few reasons why I’ve made the slight shift. I am definitely still eating plenty of animal products, but here are some of the main reasons I’m opting for more plant-based options:

  1. It’s better for the planet. Plant-based options have a smaller carbon-footprint; these foods often require less transportation and have fewer environmental side effects (decreased carbon emissions, decreased methane gas–ehem, cows). sky-earth-galaxy-universe
  2. Animals are cute (ethics). While some people think eating animals is entirely unethical, I do not personally fall into that camp. I take more issue with eating animals and byproducts of animals that have been treated poorly. Choosing cruelty-free, local, grass-fed options makes a huge difference, but often those options are more difficult to come by and are more expensive.7479512636_b19884cac6_b
  3. Nutrition. There is a ton of evidence that eating a plant-based diet has numerous positive effects on health. The China Study, one of the few large-scale, reputable nutrition studies, was conducted by Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. The study found individuals with a plant-based diet where most protein comes from plant sources have decreased cancer rates and lower prevalence of bone fracture, among other health benefits. If you’re curious, read more here.Nutrition-pyramid
  4. It’s not all or nothing. I think this is a huge misconception in our world of extremes. Everyone thinks that you must choose a label and stick with it, but I prefer to stay flexible, eat what I want, and eat to feel good. There is no need to be a strict vegetarian or vegan, but trying to make mindful choices and choose plant-based options a little more often can add up to big benefits.764px-Balanced_scale_of_Justice.svg_
  5. I love Nuzest protein powderThis is a simple one…I fell in love with Nuzest protein powder when I first tried it. This is a super simple pea protein with very few added ingredients and it tastes great. Look out for recipes using this powder coming to the blog soon!Screen Shot 2017-01-26 at 5.31.29 PM

Ted Talk Friday: Self-Compassion

This might be my favorite Ted Talk of all time. When I watched this talk, it literally brought tears to my eyes. I think the concept of self-compassion is not always taken seriously–people think it is a light hearted idea not based in science. Self-compassion is so much deeper than being easy on yourself; it is a mindset of forgiveness and self-love. It is completely life-changing. It has really changed the way I treat myself in times of stress or failure. If you like this talk, I highly recommend you read Kristin Neff’s book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself to learn more.

“The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion” by Kristin Neff

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Do you practice self-compassion? Do you treat yourself like you would treat a close friend?

Ted Talk Friday: Radical Self-Love

I am starting a new series: Ted Talk Fridays! I absolutely love Ted Talks, but know that sometimes there are just too many options and choosing one can feel overwhelming. I am planning to post one of my favorite Ted Talks to the blog every Friday. I hope you enjoy!

Today’s Ted Talk is “Radical Self-Love” by Gala Darling

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What do you think of radical self love? What are some steps you might take to put her ideas into action?

Podcast Round-Up

I consider myself a little too well-versed in podcasts…according to the NPR One app on my phone, I listed to over 28,000 minutes of podcasts throughout 2016. I am not sure whether I should feel proud or embarrassed…but, I do think it means that I know a good show when I hear one! In honor of the new year, I wanted to put together a list of my favorite podcasts. Most of these podcasts are available on the NPR One app, which you can download to your phone. The app is like Pandora, but for podcasts; it gets to know your preferences, gives your news updates, and makes new recommendations based on what you like. Definitely download-worthy! Whether you do or don’t want the app, these podcasts are fantastic and will keep you engaged for hours.

  1. Note to Self,The host of this NPR podcast, Manoush Zomorodi, connects technology, health, and wellbeing through this engaging series that tackles even the heaviest subject matter with a dose of humor. Topics range from “information overload” to the ethical considerations of parents posting photos of their young children on social media. A recent episode released from early January discusses New Years Resolutions and is FANTASTIC!

    New Year. Same Old You.

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2) The PulseI could listen to this podcast non-stop. If you are interested in health in any way, then I am sure you will enjoy this show. Every episode has a topic like “Rock and a Hard Place” or “Challenging Our Assumptions” and weaves together an engaging narrative that touches on numerous aspects of health, technology, and ethics.

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3) On Being, In an effort to explore my own spirituality, I started listening to this podcast and fell in love. The host, Krista Tippett, has the most soothing voice and interviews inspiring individuals across numerous sectors. Most recently, she interviewed one of my personal heroes, Congressman John Lewis.

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Just me fan-girling a bit…

 

4) RadiolabI might be slightly biased because the host, Jad Abumrad, attended my high schoool alma mater, but it is well worth a listen. I’m not sure where to begin, but if you have a curious cell in your body…you will enjoy Radiolab episodes!

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5) Hidden Brain, the description from NPR reads, “A conversation about life’s unseen patterns.” Now, this might not sounds all that interesting, but don’t let that deceive you. The podcasts generally center around psychology and questions about human behavior. One recent episode that I particularly enjoyed discussed the word “literally” and how its use has changed over time–integrating culture, linguistics, and history.

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6) Impact Theory,  I just recently started listening to this new podcast hosted by Tom Bilyeu, one of the founders behind Quest Nutrition. The podcast is unique and features some amazing guests with some great discussions on topics related to positive psychology and personal success.

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Do you like podcasts? What are some of your favorites?