Archive | October, 2014

An Attitude Adjustment

21 Oct

I’ve always been unable to understand vegans who eschew wonderful things, like goat cheese and creamy, slow-churned ice cream. Shook my head at Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook books—quince paste and Manuka honey are just a few of the specialty ingredients; I believe berries from a virgin blueberry tree picked under the light of a three-quarter moon are ingredients too, but I digress. Rolled my eyes at anyone who doesn’t have any issues with gluten, but buys a gluten-free brownie just because the “gluten-free” part sounds healthier.

I thought these types of people were crazy, cutting themselves off from so many of the joys of life (like barbecue) and living a lifestyle that was inaccessible, expensive, and obsessive.

But I’m halfway through my first week on an elimination diet, and I’m revising my opinions.

I had a wakeup call last week when I went to the doctor—I’ve gained about ten pounds in the last year, have been lethargic, and physically and mentally just don’t feel like myself. I realized that my erratic and bizarre eating habits (mostly mountains of breakfast cereal and entire boxes of Teddy Grahams) weren’t doing me any favors. Anytime recently that I’ve tried to go on a “health kick,” I gave up before I began, sabotaging myself with a pint of chocolate-chip cookie dough ice cream or a lame excuse—I don’t have time, I really just can’t afford to eat well right now, etc.

Clean-eating

I called myself on my BS and decided it was time to sink some serious time, effort, and money into me. I signed on with a holistic health coach and hopped into her 6-week “Renewal Formula,” which includes an elimination diet to identify any food sensitivities. It axes a bunch of stuff, including dairy products, soy, most tree nuts, flour of any kind, chocolate, alcohol, and even certain fruits and vegetables.

The shopping list had ingredients like adzuki and mung beans and, what I believed to be one of the dumbest sexy buzzword health foods, chia seeds (REMEMBER CHIA PETS? CHIA SEEDS MAKE CHIA PET HAIR. NOT FOOD).

“Jeez. What the hell is this crap?” I mentally harrumphed, “I’m going to spend a fortune.”

But then I thought MAYBE the reason I’ve gained weight and feel terrible is because I have been so judgmental and closed off to embracing certain healthier foods and lifestyles. Maybe if I weren’t so wrapped up in the snarky running commentary that I have going on in my head—part Chelsea Lately, part Liz Lemon, pontificating on the idiocy of cartons of coconut water—then I would have the time and energy to actually prepare and eat wholesome, nurturing food.

I made this. It was pretty good. I don't even like squash!

I made this. It was pretty good. I don’t even like squash!

So I went to the grocery store. And guess what? My grocery bill was not any higher than it usually is. And with the money I’m saving from not eating out or racking up bar tabs, I can afford to buy some of the more “specialty” ingredients. I learned an important lesson—healthy and wholesome food does not have to be gross, boring, or expensive. You don’t have to spend three hours a day assembling the ingredients from a laundry and list, and then another three hours actually cooking.

This coconut broccoli soup took me about 15 minutes to whip up. And I was being pokey.

This coconut broccoli soup took me about 15 minutes to whip up. And I was being pokey.

I made about 20 servings of kitcheree , a richly spiced Indian mung bean stew, for roughly $15 or $20 total. My breakfasts, smoothies or brown rice porridge, are delicious and only come out to maybe $2 each. Roasted vegetables on greens, coconut broccoli soup, baked sweet potatoes…nothing has made me feel the need to sell plasma to recoup the cash.

Remember Strega Nona and her magical pasta pot? That's how I feel with my kitcheree.

Remember Strega Nona and her magical pasta pot? That’s how I feel with my kitcheree.

I realized too that the real reason that I was so judgmental and full of excuses about eating well was because deep down, I was really scared. Scared that I wouldn’t have the willpower to stick to a plan. Scared that I would be hungry and miserable, gnawing on a carrot stick when I really wanted a slice of pizza. Scared that my friends wouldn’t understand, would think that I was elitist or inaccessible if I ate a certain way.

Granted, I have a long way to go before the end of this program, and may be singing a different tune after two weeks without chocolate. But when it’s done, I hope to strike a balance between unbridled hedonism and bland asceticism. Because Lord knows I am not going to live a life without barbecue.

What are your thoughts? Have you wanted to make a lifestyle change, whether it’s a new workout regimen or sleeping more, but let your attitude and judgments about the change prevent you from actually doing it? I think this addresses a larger issue of being scared of failing, so sabotaging yourself before you even begin. But that’s another post.

 

Blah, Blah, Blah

13 Oct

When people start making excuses about something, all I hear is “blah, blah, blah.” There’s a certain pitch to someone’s voice when they’re making an excuse—a particular note they hit that tips you off that an excuse is coming. So, I tune out for a moment, hearing the Charlie Brown adults’ “Wah wah wah wah.”

Does that make me heartless? Not compassionate? Unable to sympathize?

No. If people really want to make something happen, they will make it happen. Come hell or high water, if someone really cares about something—whether it’s meeting up with somebody, buying a certain product, taking a special trip— they will find some way for it to occur. Life is a series of choices and priorities and when I hear someone making an excuse to me, what I hear through the “blah blah blah” is “Your thing isn’t as important as my thing.”

action-expresses-priorities

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Your set of priorities is quite different from my set of priorities, and I respect that. I’m tired of people not owning up to that and spinning out a set of elaborate excuses and a complicated story when a simple, “Sorry, I can’t make it. Sorry, I don’t want to. Sorry, I’m out of town. Sorry, something came up,” would suffice. You’re not going to hurt my feelings, I promise.

I recognize that life does get in the way of all of our best plans. Unexpected car troubles, extreme weather, emergencies, etc., make valid reasons for not being able to do something. But sometimes, people hold on to those occurrences and turn them into their “story,” blowing them up into something dramatic and ongoing instead of moving on.

Notice yourself over the next few days. How often do you start to create an elaborate excuse to someone when a simple statement is all it would take? Do you think they really care about your dog’s alopecia and how it’s preventing you from meeting for coffee?

excuse

Notice also how frequently you make excuses to yourself. “I can’t eat well, it’s too expensive. I can’t go to a breakfast networking event because I’m not a morning person. I can’t approach this person I admire, I’m not confident enough.”

Making excuses to yourself and to others drains your energy, bogs you down, and prevents you from reaching certain goals. I think about it like throwing a dart to the bull’s eye. Whatever it is that you want to achieve is the bull’s eye. If you’re trying to hit the bull’s eye, you don’t start off by dancing around in a circle and then throwing the dart. If you decide to not throw the dart, you don’t jump up and down a few times before putting the dart down. You either do something or you don’t.

No excuses.

What do you think? How do you feel when you don’t make an excuse? Do you have a problem with excuses like I do? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

G.A.’s Quick and Dirty Social Media Tips

10 Oct

Everyone thought social media was just a sexy trend that would soon pass, but it’s looking like its here to stay for a while. I’ve had conversations with several people over the last few weeks about developing and implementing social media strategies for a variety of end goals. For the past year, I’ve been working as a freelance social media coordinator and have come up with some quick and dirty tips for your venture— whether it’s for your ice cream delivery service (someone please do this near me) or just to try to get all of your friends to like your witty commentary on your raucous neighbors.

The first thing I must do is make a disclaimer: Social Media is NOT advertising.

Repeat after me: Social Media is NOT advertising.

Think about it—people get on social media to “hang out.” They get on there to see their friends new haircut, share jealousy-inducing pictures of their fabulous vacations, Instacreep on their ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, etc. People don’t want hard sells on social media. They don’t want you to be saying “Buy this, buy this, buy this.” Don’t people DVR television shows these days just so they can fast forward through the commercials?

What people do want on social media is to feel connected. To feel special. To feel part of something. To feel like they know you, know your product, know your brand. They want to hang out with you—laugh at your jokes, hear your interesting stories, learn something or be inspired. So cater to them.

My four W’s: Who are you talking to, Where can you find these people, Why do you want to engage with them, and What are you saying?

Who:

If you don’t know your audience, you need to take a few steps backward and identify it. Be specific. I’m not going to go into outlining your ideal client/target audience, but what I will say is BE AS SPECIFIC AND DETAILED AS POSSIBLE. You really can’t move forward until you have an idea of who makes up your audience.

Where:

Once you know who you’re talking to, you’re going to know where to find them. Don’t waste your time trying to get on every social platform out there. Be smart. If you’re a retirement home, do you really think your ideal clients will be on Instagram and Snapchat? And if you’re a teen boutique, do you think they’ll be concerned with your Linked In profile? It’s more valuable to have consistent, tailored, knockout content on two or three platforms than one post every four months on a half dozen networks. Figure out with platform or two your audience is already hanging out on, and go put yourself in front of them!

Why:

What are you trying to accomplish with your social media presence? Providing customer service in real time? Letting your audience get to know the person behind your business? Positioning yourself as an expert in your field? I cannot say this enough: Be useful, be inspiring, or at least be entertaining.

What:

Like I said earlier, do NOT make your page all about yourself. Make your page a resource for your audience. If you’re a kitchen store, then post recipes, local foodie events, articles about area chefs, funny cartoons about cooking… be creative and have fun. If you aren’t interested in your content, chances are, nobody else will be either. I tend toward the 80/20 rule in social media: 80 % of your content is about your audience and 20 % is about you. Using the kitchen store example, only post store events, sales, and new products 20 % of the time. Otherwise, your audience will be bored and disinterested.

Be personable and engaging—ask questions, encourage response, and PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING RESPOND TO YOUR AUDIENCE. If you get a direct message, respond to it within a day or two. Comment back, favorite a retweet, tag other people or businesses…this is social media. Not “I’m a recluse sending things into Cyberspace on my iPhone” media.

 

This is not rocket science. It doesn’t require hours of work every single day. If you’re consistent and dedicated, you can spend 15 minutes a day on your social media strategy. But it’s like a sourdough starter—you must feed it regularly or it will not yield anything.

This is a basic overview…if you have questions or comments, post them here!