Monthly Archives: May 2014

Nurture Your Self-Talk

What we say to ourselves has a direct impact on what we think about ourselves.  Talking to yourself in the right language will have a direct impact on how successful you will be in accomplishing difficult tasks.  Elizabeth Bernstein’s article in the Wall Street Journal on self-talk supports the notion that what we say to ourselves will help us perform better in competitions, interviews, public speaking events, and even has more success in dating.

How Self-Talk Works

self talkIn Elizabeth Bernstein’s interview with Antonis Hatzigeorgiadis, associate professor at the University of Thessaly in Greece who has studied the impact of self-talk on athletic performance, he states that motivational self talk such as “you can do this” leads to the correct reaction.  This kind of instructional self talk can be very beneficial for learning a new task.  Before a speech, someone might say to oneself, “speak slower and make eye contact”.  He also mentions to be short, precise and consistent.  You instruct yourself until it almost become automatic.

Bernstein also refers to a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that examined how one addresses oneself being also significant.  Using non-first person pronouns or one’s own name was more effective than using “I”.   So before giving a speech saying, “Barbara speak slow and give eye contact” is more effective than saying “I will speak slower and give them eye contact.”

Apply Self-Talk to Changing Habits

So take this a step further.  Making lifestyle changes also requires a series of new tasks.  If you are starting an exercise routine which involves getting up earlier and you really want to press the snooze alarm, you could try saying to yourself: “You will get out of bed and exercise”.  Non-first person pronoun, short and concise.  When you are reaching for a cookie or bag of chips and you are trying to eat healthier, say to yourself: “Barbara, eat an apple instead”.   When you are breaking your habit of going to McDonald’s and having a craving, say to yourself:  “Barbara, this will pass, go home and make dinner.”  When you are going to a party with plenty of temptation, tell yourself:  “you will enjoy one dessert only”.

Why not try making your self-talk direct and with the desired outcome.  Do this with every new task and see how successful you can be.  That little voice inside your head needs to come out louder so you can hear it and follow its guidance!

The Gardener and the Garden

magnoliaHow often do you reflect on the good things you have accomplished in your life?  Do you ever revel in the beauty of your children, the comfort of your home, the love in your relationships, the respect of your coworkers?  Do you take the time to acknowledge the impact you have had on others and how you may have made them better human beings?  When we take the time to reflect on the good in ourselves, it displaces the fears and doubts that often times creep into our thinking.  It has been said that negative thoughts stick like velcro and positive thoughts stick like teflon.  If only we could scuff that teflon service and let the good stick better than think of the impact on our challenges.

You Are The Gardener In Your Garden

In each of us is a gardener and a garden.  A garden will be filled with weeds, browned leaves and lack of color without the time taken to mend the soil, pull the weeds, and water the plants.  It is the gardener that creates the beauty in the garden.  And you are the gardener.  Without taking the time to mend your thoughts with praise, acknowledgement and kindness, your actions will not be as splendid as you hoped.  You were born with a purpose and you are a piece of the puzzle that completes this great picture of life.  Take the time on a daily basis to give yourself praise, to give yourself acknowledgement so that your garden will be beautiful and full.

In each of us are a gardener and a garden.

The gardener tills the earth and nurtures the soil.  And the garden tills the mind with anticipation and nurtures the eyes with beauty.

One without the other is like a hoe without dirt and a flower without roots.

For a mind blossoms when it has seeds sewn with labor and anticipation and the eyes weep when beauty is realized from its toils.


Let’s Chew The Saturated Fat

I went to visit some relatives last week and for the first time in 30 years the margarine was gone and in its place was glorious, creamy butter!  butterFor years they had followed the nutritional advice and made the switch from savory butter to tasteless margarine.  And now, with the recent study published in March in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluding that saturated fats do not lead to heart disease, they returned to their former love and enjoy that rich, creamy, buttery taste once again.  But the accuracy in this study is being questioned.

Saturated Versus Unsaturated Fats

OilInTheFamilyAll fats are a mix of unsaturated and saturated fats and are categorized by what type of fat they contain the most. Saturated fats are fats that come from animals like butter, cheese, chocolate, ice cream, cold cuts, and red meat.  There are some plant-based fats like palm and coconut oil that are also high in saturated fats.

Unsaturated fats are made up of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and they come mainly from plant-based foods like fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.  Most research supports the heart health benefits of reducing saturated fats and replacing them with polyunsaturated fats.

The Real Melt Down On Saturated Fat

The recently published research in the Annals of Internal Medicine challenge the well supported data in the link between saturated fats and heart disease.  There is a lot of controversy over the validity of this recent study.  Their data was gathered through observational studies, which according to Martijn Katan, a professor of nutrition at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and an expert on diet and cardiovascular disease, can be limiting and inaccurate.  In an interview in the May Nutrition Action Healthletter, Katan states that some of the limits of observational studies are that some only ask for food recall which can be impeded by subjective memory.  Other weaknesses of observational studies are that they may not include a complete food list.  Additionally, he states that diet assessments may not consider how an individual ate ten years ago and may only look at the recent past.  He states that how research is conducted can lead the authors to results they desired.  Furthermore, he emphasizes that there have been hundreds of trials that have proven that saturated fat can raise the bad LDL cholesterol and that if you doubt it then you can do your own experiment.  He recommends check you own cholesterol using a do-it-yourself measuring kit after eating a lot of saturated fat for a few weeks, checking and then eating a diet higher in polyunsaturated fats for a couple of weeks and checking once more.  Other scientists also challenge the results.

Rajiv Chowdbury, an epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, states that there were several errors in the data interpretation.  For example, the author of the study had first concluded that the people who ate a diet high in omega 3’s, a type of unsaturated fat, had a negative effect on their cardiovascular health, when in actuality the data indicated that they had significantly less heart disease.

Another weakness of the study is that the authors did not state what the saturated fats were replaced with in the group that ate fewer saturated fats.  If the participants had replaced those calories with carbohydrates that can raise insulin levels, increase vascular inflammation and cause weight gain instead of polyunsaturated fats which are heart healthier, the results could be skewed.

Everything in Moderation

As much as I love butter and many other forms of saturated fats, I believe these foods should be consumed judiciously and in moderation.  If you are uncertain of how your food choices affect your cholesterol then why not do your won self test.  Check your cholesterol now.  If you LDL is greater than 100 and you have a family history of heart disease, then why not cut out the fast food, reduce the chocolate and cheese and eat more fish, nuts and canola oil and then recheck your cholesterol?

Life is a balance between competing priorities; desires of the heart and awareness of our bodies.  Making healthy lifestyle choices can be made easier when we plan ahead to avoid impulsive choices and we learn little tricks and tips to make healthier choices.  We should also make our food choices based on our cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and family health history. If you are eating fast food, hot dogs, red meat, cheese, chips, ice cream and candy on a regular basis shouldn’t you ask yourself how this is benefiting you?  Can you postpone some short-term pleasures for some long-term quality of life?  Go ahead and enjoy that butter, but make it whipped, eat those foods that are best with butter less often, and enjoy grilled fish, nuts and canola oil more often.