Last year, an article in the New York Times described “The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting.” That word struck me at the time and has stuck with me ever since. Speaking as a mom of two, the expectations and pressures weighing on parents can indeed feel relentless.
It’s not enough to keep our children clothed and fed, get them to school, and take the occasional family vacation. Parents today should provide optimal nutrition from birth and ensure that kids have the best educational opportunities. We’re told to enroll them in sports, extracurriculars, and tutoring to give them a competitive edge for college, then we’re obliged to volunteer as assistant coach, snack mom, and classroom parent. By the way, you’re already saving money for college, right?
Don’t forget, we’re also in charge of arranging playdates, monitoring screen time, and searching Pinterest for unique birthday party ideas and fun hijinks for the Elf on the Shelf.
No wonder parents are succumbing to burnout.
When Mark asked me to write a post about the toll the pandemic is taking on mental health and relationships, I didn’t want simply to detail the ways it’s hard to live through a pandemic. Nor did I want to throw a bunch of statistics at you about how many people are having a difficult time. You know that it’s like living in the world’s least entertaining Groundhog-Day-meets-dystopian-thriller film.
If you’re like me, you’re sick of kvetching about 2020. The fact is, though, that I don’t know anyone, myself included, who isn’t struggling in one way or another right now.
After a lot of reflection, I’ve concluded that a big reason why 2020 is so draining is that our usual coping strategies don’t work like we want or expect. Most are aimed at reducing the source of our distress or dealing with the emotional aftermath. This pandemic is ongoing. We’re stuck in the middle of it, with no end in sight, and no way to speed the process along.
Hi folks, in this week’s Ask a Health Coach post, Erin is answering your questions about the “keto flu”, what to do when you’re hungry all the time, and how to fulfill your need for human connection during the pandemic. Keep your questions coming here in the comments or over in our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group. Jared asked: “I’ve been doing Mark’s Keto Reset for a few days. At first, I felt great, but now I’m achy and all I want to do is sleep. What happened to all that energy people talk about with Keto?” Ah yes, the keto flu. There’s no mistaking it. Well, at least to those of us who have been through it and safely made our way to the metabolically flexible side (which you will Jared, trust me). As you might have read, eating lower-carb — especially if you’re transitioning from a Standard American Diet can cause all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms. Everything from headaches and fatigue to nausea. But don’t let that keep you from sticking with it. When you’re faced with a challenge, it’s easy to give up. And even easier to convince yourself that whatever it is you’re attempting to do isn’t right for you. So, when the going gets tough you jump ship. No shame, that’s just how it rolls sometimes. On the flip side, a lot of people decide that punishing themselves is their only course of action. They put on a brave face and decide that they must deserve every ounce of discomfort they have coming their way. That’s the price they have to pay to “get healthy.” As crazy as it sounds, they’ve actually done studies about this. In this one, researchers asked undergraduate students to remember a time when they felt guilty, sad, or (in contrast) did something boring and non-emotionally driven like grocery shopping. Then, they gave participants six mild electrical shocks (stay with me here), with the option to increase the voltage for each subsequent shock. The students who recalled feeling guilty, chose to raise the voltage well into the mildly painful zone, while the other groups didn’t. The use of self-punishment to reduce feelings of guilt are, unfortunately, well-documented in research. Now, let me offer you a third perspective. What if you took this opportunity to give your body what it needed — without guilt, shame, or judgement? It may sound simple, but if you’re extra tired, why not take a midday nap or go to bed earlier? If you’re feeling achy, how about taking a few rest days or doing more gentle workouts? Also, think about positive steps you can take to make you transition more pleasant. Most of the time the low-carb flu is caused by an electrolyte imbalance. So, drink some bone broth, eat more leafy greens, or try this homemade electrolyte drink that Mark swears by. Hang in there Jared, your symptoms won’t last long and if you can get through this preliminary phase, you’ll be home free. Sue … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Tuning in to What Your Body’s Telling You”
Therapist and professor Pauline Boss coined the term “ambiguous loss” to describe unique types of losses for which there is no closure. Prototypical examples are when a loved one goes missing and is never heard from again, or a parent or partner develops Alzheimer’s disease and slowly ceases to be the person you once knew despite being physically present.
Because these fall outside the realm of “typical loss,” the folks left behind experience more enduring and more complicated grief. Most of us are prepared to deal with losses that are concrete and finite. We have rituals—burials, commemorative tattoos—that help us mark the end of a chapter. When loss is ambiguous, there are no such rituals and no finality. People around us are often ill-equipped to help. They may be confused or put off by the intensity of our grief. They might even regard it as inappropriate or unfounded. It can be tremendously isolating.
Hi Folks! This week, Erin is navigating the age-old pain versus gain debate, providing strategies for injury-free workouts, ditching the restrictive diet mentality, and the real reason you’re not seeing results. Keep your questions coming over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group or in the comments below. Raymond asked: “I’m struggling to lose the last 10 pounds, mainly because I can’t be as active as I need to be. Every time I try to exercise or do strength training, I end up in pain. Part of me doesn’t want to do it because I know I’ll be miserable for a few days afterward. Any tips on exercising pain-free?” It sounds like you’re clear on your end goal: to lose those last 10 pounds. But you’re also struggling with body pain every time you work out. I hear you Raymond. Pain is no fun. Thankfully, you don’t have to subject yourself to it in order to lose weight. The whole no pain, no gain mentality is total BS. Punishing yourself just to reach your end goal is never a good plan. But let’s take a step back and look at your situation for a minute. You say every time you try to exercise or strength train, you end up in pain. Is that true? Is it every time? Or is it only when you do certain exercises or do them for a certain amount of time? We often look at workouts as lifting dumbbells, taking a class, or going for a run. Or we overdo it on a consistent basis because we’re comparing our workouts to that of someone on Instagram or in our circle of friends. All of which has the ability to create undue pain. And not just physical pain. Just remember that any form of movement has the potential to lead to weight loss, or as I prefer to say, fat loss. And a big part of how successful you’ll be starts with how you perceive your efforts. So, I’ve got to ask. Do you look at your workouts as a chore that might finally get the scale down 10 pounds? Or is exercise something you actually enjoy doing? It’s possible that by reframing the way you see your workouts, you could actually diminish your perceived pain. In one study, researchers saw a major distinction between spinal cord injury patients who were motivated to be physically active by positive versus negative incentives. Positive incentives were things like seeing an improvement in mood either during or after the activity and feeling satisfied with their accomplishments. Negative incentives were all motivated by fear or obligation, often causing the participants additional discomfort and pain. Back in the day, our ancestors stayed active by chasing antelope so they’d have dinner or they walked to the nearest spring to get fresh water. There was no selective pressure to find joy in exercise because it simply needed to be done to survive. Thankfully, these days, we have the choice to work out in … Continue reading “Ask a Health Coach: Why Pain Doesn’t Equal Gain”
Let me be the first to tell you that there’s nothing wrong with you. You may have some patterns to unlearn, some self-love to embrace, and some new behaviors to embody, but seriously, there’s nothing wrong with you. If you want to change your negative self-talk, you’ve got to first understand where it comes from. There’s a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi, that, in a nutshell says, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. And your words become your actions.” So if your actions include binging on sourdough (again), rolling your eyes at your rolls and wrinkles, or subconsciously sabotaging your sleep cycle, you can go ahead and thank your belief system for that. You can also take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. On any given week I’ll hear my clients say that making a protein rich breakfast takes too much effort. Or that they’re too busy to work out. Or they can’t stop eating desserts. These are all beliefs. And, as we’ll be breaking down here in a second, there’s a big difference between beliefs and truths. Your Brain’s Role in Self-talk Here’s the deal. Your brain’s job is to keep you safe. Because of this, it will always choose what’s familiar and comfortable over working toward a change that’s different. Even if that change is in the best interest of your health and happiness. What’s familiar is safe and what’s unknown has the potential to hurt you. At least from your brain’s point of view. And so, it automatically creates negative thoughts (and negative self-talk) to keep you nicely tucked into your comfort zone. Examples of Negative Self-talk Here’s a scenario to illustrate what I mean. Say you’re thinking about ordering take out. Will it be a large, extra pepperoni pizza or a thick steak and roasted veggies? Depending on your past experiences and your personal belief system, your brain will automatically assign a meaning to that choice. If you choose the pizza, your self-talk might be, “well, I guess I’ll be heavy my whole life” or “I never make good choices” or “life’s too short not to eat pizza!!” Unfortunately, that reaffirms your negative beliefs, which you’ll continue to repeat unless you do something to change them. Other examples of negative self-talk might be: I’m always out of shape I’m too lazy Why bother I never have enough time Nothing ever goes right for me That’s impossible When will I learn It’s my fault I always mess things up Overcoming Negative Self-talk Reframing is a psychological technique used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Also known as cognitive restructuring, it allows you to reprogram your brain, changing your pattern of negative thinking — and the way you feel about certain situations, people, places, and things (including yourself). This is important because, as noted above, your thoughts end up becoming your actions. And negative thoughts very often turn into self-destructive actions. “I’ll never be able to stick to the Primal Blueprint” quickly spirals into you speeding through … Continue reading “7 Ways to Change Negative Self-Talk”