Musings about your personal brand

April 9th, 2018 No Comments Tags: , ,

A lot has been written on developing your personal brand. Whether you agree with this notion or not, everyone has one. This isn’t only reserved for corporations.

My professional association, Dietitians of Canada is undergoing a ‘dietitian branding’ exercise. This is a topic that intrigues me not only for my profession as a collective but what this means to each and every one of its foot soldiers. Let’s ponder this more deeply, hmmmmm.

Only one chance folks…There’s a lot of wisdom in the saying “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” Think about it. Recall the last 2 total strangers you brushed shoulders with who exuded a positive image and one who projected a negative one? Jot down qualities and observations you perceived for each of these people: Did they seem happy, confident, funny, smart, witty, polite, disorganized, reliable, honest? Recall details on their posture, neatness, polish, professionalism. Whether it’s right or wrong we pass judgement about people we don’t even know every single day.

Mirror mirror on the wall…. Now reflect on what impression you project to the world. Attempt to stand outside of yourself and peer down with that same judgmental eye. Avoid stopping this exercise and scoffing – ‘well I’m a student, at this point in my life this doesn’t pertain to me’ or ‘I like to buck trends and be my own person’ or ‘I prefer people get to know me for who I am on the inside and not judge me by my outer appearance’. Indulge me and create your list.

Role Models Now, who do you admire? What are their qualities? What is the image they project? Complete the same list for these folks.

My Mom and Grandma always looked polished and presentable and always dressed age appropriately. Any one of my 3 sisters and me would hear a “you’re not going out looking like THAT are you?” from my Mom if we didn’t meet her standard. It wasn’t about being ‘fancy-shmancy’ it was about being presentable.

How do you want to be perceived? What impression do you want to make on the world? Compare that with your current observations and compare it to your role models. Do they match up or are there measures you can take to close the gap?

Define it and refine it! Attention to detail is the name of the game. Although the old adage ‘the clothes make the (wo)man’ might hold some truth, you don’t need to break the bank or even spend one red cent to make change. It can be as easy as starting with 1, 2, 3: good posture, a smile and direct eye contact.

Is your ‘go to’ outfit taken from a pile of clothes on your bedroom floor? Do you hide behind your hairstyle which hasn’t been cut for months? What is your footwear ‘go to’? I have wandered through airports, university campuses, hospitals and offices to see employees sporting tights or PJ’s instead of trousers, scuffing in slippers or flip-flops instead of appropriate footwear topped off with unbrushed hair as a ‘crowning glory’. And don’t get me started with pop tops, tank tops and seeing too much of the skin you’re in…. What if you bumped into someone who was about to interview you? That first impression would not elicit a call back, let alone an interview.

I remember attending a talk decades ago on this very subject and found it eye-opening. The speaker got me thinking about how to project my best self every day. A perfect place to start is taking a look at yourself in the mirror before you head out the door. Is you hair brushed? Is your neck line and skirt length congruent with office policy? Are there spills, stains or tears? I usually find when someone asks the question “does this look ok?” usually the answer is ‘no’. I can hear my Mom saying “you’re NOT going out looking like THAT are you?” Keep it real folks!

Fast forward to today and the same fundamentals apply. It’s not about following expensive trends from getting fake eyelashes, spending hours on make up or donning Chanel’s latest and greatest. It’s about choosing clothes that fit, wearing colours and styles that suit you in your chosen industry that’s updated as you age, ensuring you have that 1, 2, 3 noted above covered. Attention to detail continues to be key.

But wait, what? You might want to emulate your cool, eccentric professor who pays little attention to their physical being. That’s fine and good, but ask them about how their brand evolved as they climbed the “stairway to genius heaven”. I’ll bet they payed attention to some of these unspoken rules along the way. When you achieve super genius status, go ahead and wear what you want.

You’re not exempt by human nature’s rules…I sometimes wish I had a ‘cloaking device’ like the Kling-on’s on Star Trek when I’m not feeling my best. But life doesn’t work like that. Whether you care or not you DO make a first impression out in the real world every dang day. Is your everyday demeanour and presentation what you want people to see? If you want to project polish and professionalism decide what that means to you then make a few goals to achieve it.

Brand extension applies to your on-line presence... This day and age our on-line personas exude who we are as well, so an evaluation of what you project on each platform you ascribe to would be wise too.

911 to the rescue... You can find oodles of tips, tricks and advice on-line. If you want to polish up on your public speaking consider enrolling in a Toast Master’s course. You may also wish get advice from a real life coach. Perhaps treat your favourite role model for coffee and pick their brain on the subject.

I truly wish our world judged people for what’s on the inside. Maybe some day there’ll be a meter we can lodge on our forehead indicating what we want to project be it smarts, savvy, kindness, loyalty, diligence, or whatever. But until then first impressions still rules. The bottom line is, be honest with yourself, only you will benefit from self evaluation.

How does your personal brand measure up? Food for thought, that’s for sure….
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Create a Ripple of Positive Change this #NutritionMonth

March 8th, 2018 No Comments
Food has limitless potential. Since #NutritionMonth’s official launch on March 1st, I have pondered what all of this means to me more deeply, hmmmm. I have an interesting perspective, as I run the campaign. I feel like an osprey in her nest that looks out watching it unfold: fellow colleagues using and sharing the resources in their respective circles in their own way making it come to life.

I marvel at the reach and breadth of every aspect of the campaign – there is pick up in hospitals, health clinics, public health departments, health organizations, professional organizations, human resource departments, government offices, fitness clubs, schools, universities, colleges, farmer’s markets, grocery stores, companies and soars on social media and in the press. I feel heartened with what I observe. Each person who takes part creates ripples in the sea of positive change, resulting in a nutrition tsunami!

I am in awe of my RD colleague’s enthusiasm influencing change from coast to coast – their events, connections with others, their commitment, their enthusiasm. If anyone ever says to me that 1 person cannot make a difference, I scoff. My experience running Nutrition Month has demonstrated time and time again that when you collectively combine everyone’s efforts you synergize the outcome with compound interest.

I witnessed one such highlight recently from Adrianna Smallwood’s team, one of the Regional Representatives in Newfoundland. She tweeted:

Thank you Mayor Carol McDonald!!! Not only did the Town of @PCSPnl proclaim March #NutritionMonth but they also adopted a Healthy Eating Policy for the Town during their Council Meeting last night! Amazing work @PCSPnl ! @EatGreatNL @DietitiansCAN @Sust_Nutrition

Now that’s the power of what one team can do – influence positive change, especially policy – amen sisters! By the way, this Newfoundland team applied and successfully received numerous proclamations in their region for Nutrition Month and Dietitians Day. I am lucky to work with all of the fabulous teams from coast to coast.

I know the line “Stronger Together” might sound cliché; nonetheless, I witness this each and every year as people join in. It certainly is true.

If you haven’t joined in Nutrition Month yet, consider taking part even in some small way. You can influence people in YOUR circle. What are you waiting for? Share how Canadians can Unlock the Potential of Food. Start with you and your family, your neighbour, your workplace. Just start! Together we are helping Canadians discover the potential of food to enhance lives, improve health, inspire children, fuel activities and bring people together. It doesn’t get any better than that!

Be the positive change our profession needs right now. Find out more: www.NutritionMonth2018.ca.

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Proverb: What has the potential to fuel, discover, prevent, heal and connect?

February 28th, 2018 No Comments Tags: , ,

I was pondering the Nutrition Month theme more deeply as I undertook weekend food prep recently – Unlock the Potential of Food. I decided to pull out my cauldron to make one of my favourite soup recipes – Acini di Pepe. I learned how to make this from my Mom. While that was bubbling I did other prep. As the windows got steamy my thoughts meandered back to when my nephew Christopher was a toddler. He uttered his first sentence as he enjoyed lovin’ spoonfuls of my Mom’s Acini di Pepe soup ‘More soup Sassy!’  like a baby robin feeding in the nest.

I love falling back on recipes that are tried-and-true family favourites to not only carry on generations of tradition, but also to create nourishing food that’s incredibly delicious. When it’s all whipped up using simple ingredients, you get something super. This past year we learned some of my Mother-in-law’s traditional Ukrainian fare – from pierogi to cabbage rolls and borscht. None of these recipes has more than 6 main ingredients but the taste explosion and pride is infinite.

When I cook it always make sense to make a cauldron full, to enjoy and share. I think of William Shakespeare’s famous line from Macbeth: Boil boil toil & trouble, Fire burn & cauldron bubble as it comes together on the stove. I’ll be sharing vats full with various family members who are recuperating. What better to rejuvenate with homemade fare that’s a complete meal. It not only nourishes but feeds your soul too, MmmMmmmmm.

We are celebrating my Mom’s 85 birthday too. Oh that Mother of mine, that cat with more than 9 lives. She has blessed our lives in so many ways and has rallied more than Chrissy Everett leaving my worry beads worn. I cherish getting together around the family table to break bread, especially to celebrate together.

Isn’t that great about food, it has the potential to fuel you, generates wonder as you discover it through cooking, sustains you to prevent disease and fosters healing and best of all it brings us together.

It’s like a wise ole proverb: what has the potential to fuel, discover, prevent, heal and connect? What else, but food!? Why don’t you join in this Nutrition Month 2018 and Unlock the Potential of Food in your household. Find out more: www.NutritionMonth2018.ca
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Keep the Olympic flame burning!

February 21st, 2018 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

There’s nothing I don’t love about the Olympics. Even though I am a self proclaimed tortoise I get pumped watching athletes perform their craft. Further, faster, stronger, better are all goals we can all relate to and strive for in our own lives.

Olympians go for gusto. They are certainly not fair-weather participants. They push through barriers we mere mortals can barely fathom to improve their time, pass their competitor or land that jump without wavering.

I won’t be joining an olympic team any time soon because tortoises don’t qualify. I will however be more mindful of how I can do my body right one baby step at a time. Maybe I’ll take an extra stroll in the day; perhaps I’ll dial down on second helpings; how about getting down on my mat an extra day or two in the week to tighten my core or make my lunch more often.

Winter is a perfect time of year to take it up a notch to rethink your goals to get in shape for when spring is sprung! If your get up and go got up and went, time to find it and get in gear, don’t you think? Why just watch sports when you can add some new moves to your repertoire and get active!

Consider jumpstarting your heart if you’ve been in a slump lately. Plan on extending your efforts to all of the seasons of the year, taking each day as it comes. As long as I’m able to move one foot in front of the other, I am committed to continue my ‘movement movement‘. How about you?

Keep the Flame Alive!
Well it’s life back to normal
The Games are almost a wrap
After McMorris’ story
I walked another lap

Got to thinking about what
This all means in my life
Triple flips and double sow cows
Being active doesn’t need to create strife

The lycra and spandex
Never looked this darn good! (mainly on Olympians!)
Treating body as temple
Is something we should

For we mere earth mortals
Making a goal is a start
To move our bodies, as it was meant
I so very smart

Start a ‘movement movement’
Rise up off the couch
Oh ye young and old
Finding 30-60 minutes, isn’t that much

You’ll feel better and toned
Energetic and shvelt
Your hourglass figure
Might warrant a belt!

Keep that flame alive everyday
Whether it’s gleaming or dim
And do yourself a favour
Press ‘start’ and begin!

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What is love?

February 14th, 2018 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

What is love?
Sent from above
So alluring
With work, enduring

A gift of time
Smiling ray of sunshine
A passing glance
Simple romance

A soft touch
What you do says much
It’s understanding
Not demanding

A reservation
No consternation
Simplicity
Implicitly

Kind seeds sown
Good deeds unknown
Family and friend
Love to the end

Valentine
Roses and wine?
Show thy love
All the time

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Vanity UN-fair

January 19th, 2018 No Comments
I have been preparing a ‘Tee Talk’ presentation for Markland Wood Golf Club patrons. It got me thinking about questions I may get asked. I plan to address controllable risk factors in the introduction but I’m sure people will be especially interested in food and nutrition measures to stay ‘forever young’. Being north of 50 this is top of mind for me as well.

There’s rarely a week that goes by that we don’t hear about magical elixirs, tablets, lotions and potions for anti-aging – that “Genie in a Bottle” with a premium price tag with false promises. I love Tim Caulfield’s series “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death” and his book “Is Gwennth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? (spoiler alert: yes she is!) where he exposes the ugly side of the evidence-free beauty industry preying on your vanity while thinning your wallet.

When I think more deeply about anti-aging from a nutrition perspective what’s most important is working on your bodacious body from the inside, rather than simply covering up flaws on the outside. Think about it folks. There are an array of controllable risk factors that inherently promote youth without the fanfare although working on them is certainly aspirational. These include not smoking, being active (and sitting less), eating healthy, managing alcohol, sleeping enough and managing stress.

In December the Heart & Stroke Foundation released a study showing that Canadians consume almost 50% of their energy from ultra-processed foods, big sigh. How on earth can anyone expect to find the fountain of youth at the bottom of a bag of Doritos? You simply cannot. Moreover, adding a daily serving of any superfood will not optimally protect you if you regularly smoke, consume excess junk and alcohol and more. Catch my drift?

I broke off my relationship with those special products, magical lotion and skin elixirs. Hasta la vista, baby; my face hasn’t cracked yet!

Forget about turning your life on it’s head by trying the new keto-craze, going ‘clean’ or paleo. Work on the inside by enjoying nourishing whole foods, dialling down on ‘happy hour’, moving and chilling more and at the end of the day get your zzzzzz’s.

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More Mother Nature Please…

December 30th, 2017 No Comments
While taking a walk on a snowy December day I pondered what to focus on in the coming year. Gone are the days of those New Year’s Resolutions that start with a sizzle and fizzle before the month ends. With fluttering snowflakes on my eyelashes and the whistling wind gusting through, I thought ‘AHA’ let’s get more Mother Nature in our days all the year through. Consider this:

Plants on Your Plate – If you haven’t tried dishing up half your plate with fruits and veggies every day, this is a perfect place to start. You can also include more of Mother Nature’s bounty like beans, peas and lentils in your repertoire too. Forget spending north of $100/ounce on magical anti aging cream to help you find the fountain of youth. Work on your inside instead. More plants will help you glow plus benefit your brain, your digestion and satiety. A healthy and stealthy strategy indeed!

Fuel with Nuts & Seeds – Gone are the tummy rumbling low fat days (thank goodness). Embrace the nutrient richness of nuts and seeds. They too come from Mother Earth and are great to nibble on salt free and roasted as snacks, in salads or stir fries.

Walk with Mother Nature – Get outside and play no matter what drama the weather station is dishing up. We are Canadian, eh?! Bundle up and find a path to meander along. Walking 30 minutes each day helps you inside and out, from head to toe, boosting your mood, helping you sleep, managing stress and refreshing your outlook. Who needs a trainer when Mother Nature can be your guide!

Acquaint Yourself with Mother Earth – It’s a big world out there, so plan a trip or excursion near or far on our grand planet. There are new customs to learn, languages to hear, cuisine to try, currencies to spend, wine to sip to enrich your perspective and embrace differences.

Support Mother Nature with Science – As the saying goes, “You can’t fool Mother Nature!” meaning she follows the laws of science whether you like it or not. So whatever you do or try this year, make sure it’s seeped in science because being a biological being your bodacious body depends on it – Don’t mess with the machine!

You can’t go wrong if your New Year focuses to get more of what Mother Nature has to offer in your life. Choose it. Embrace it. Prefer it. Respect it. Thrive with it.

Upward and onward from here!

 

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Christmas Reframe

December 23rd, 2017 No Comments

Christmas reframe
Stop and freeze frame
Sparkle from within
Be genuine

Do things for the right reason
During this and every season
Be pure as the snow
Bring joy – Ho! Ho! Ho!

Put a song in your heart
A gift of you, to impart
Listen more, talk less
Worth the effort, I confess

Give the benefit of the doubt
That’s what relationships are about
Be a sweet elixir
A strong bond fixer

Act the truth
Be the proof
Eyes open, love find
Bring peace, be kind

Help one another and feel
Peace and kindness, keep it real
Slow down, take time
Make your inner light shine

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2017 Twelve Days of Christmas Remix

December 10th, 2017 No Comments

Hem hem hem…. Ok my cherished T & T followers. 2018 is almost upon us while the Christmas season is in full swing! Let’s sing along from the same proverbial song-sheet to get through to the New Year singing, fa la la la la, la la la la?

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

One Drummer Drumming – Marching to the beat of your own drum by being true to yourself is a perfect way to close out this year and start fresh the next. “To thy own self be true.”

Two Little Snacks – Keeping your hunger at bay will really help you from feeling ravenous which could result in over indulging.

Three Protein Servings – Having a regular eating routine with a small protein serving at each meal helps kick hunger to the curb.

Four Small Plates – Keeping your eyes on your serving size by using smaller plates can help you eat less over the holidays and everyday!

Five Comeback Lines – Prepare yourself with how you’re going to deal with food pushing saboteurs. Take the high road with a polite reply and HO HO HOld the attitude!

Six Times a Movin’ – Keeping regularly active (at least six, five-10 minute intervals of moving daily) and even taking it up a notch this time of year to offset any extra nibbling will help you burn any extra calories, keep on track, feel fit and even ease stress.

Seven Beauty Sleeps – Getting enough zzzzz’s helps with appetite control and allows you to be more productive. Nitey nite.

Eight Friends to Visit – Make an extra effort to reconnect with loved ones you haven’t seen in a while. Give yourself the gift of personal connectedness.

Nine Ladies Dancing – Rocking around the clock at your Christmas party like it’s 1999 will help you burn-baby-burn 276 calories an hour!

Ten Fruit & Veg – Eating your quota of these puppies everyday will help fill you up and ease those extras out because you’re simply feeling full. Poof, like magic!

Eleven Quiet Moments – Let stress flow away when you find quiet times to ponder life and all it’s wonders. Ummmmmm.

Twelve Times a Standin’ – Close all of your rings on your Apple Watch to combat ‘sitting disease’. “Time to stand up!”

Ok folks, if you follow this beat for the coming weeks you’ll be in better shape and feeling extra cheer by New Year for a happy Ho! Ho! Ho!, not a sour OH! OH! OH!

God bless us every one!

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Let Evidence be Your Guide

July 24th, 2017 No Comments Tags:

I have heard the cheers for the proposed plans of the new Canada’s Food Guide. I’ve been pondering this more deeply though, hmmmm. I want to join the throngs of enthusiasts, but to me, the jury is still out until I see the final product. You may recall the post I wrote: Does the Food Guide make my butt get fat? a while back. I revealed that creating any educational material for a target group of people poses many challenges. So devising a new Guide for 35 million people over the age of two, living in a culturally and geographically diverse country such as Canada makes this a mammoth task – understatement of the year…

The Good

At first blush, the guiding principles seem sound: The first outlines what to eat (more veggies, fruit, whole grains and plant based proteins), the second cautions what not to eat (ultra processed and prepared foods, especially those containing a lot of saturated fat, sugar and salt) and the third provides strategies on how to eat (highlighting a need for more cooking and eating together) – very Brazilian Guide-esque, don’t you think? That guide received rave reviews, so including these elements makes sense as these issues are applicable to Canadians too. The devil is in the detail. People want specifics; however, like “what should I buy, then what and how much should I eat?” Don’t leave consumers hanging Health Canada because people will fill in the blanks which could lead the population down another dark, new epidemic alley.

The Bad

I believe in the old adage “if something seems too good to be true, it probably is”. This rings true in this case. Don’t call me a Debbie Downer. I am certainly hoping for the best, really I am. But as I read the centrefold of the Globe & Mail’s National News section on July 19, 2017 a few alarm bells rang. Put the pom poms down and hear me out.

The Consultation Process I liken Health Canada’s consultation process to sending a “Dear Santa” letter when I was young. It’s a dark hole where everyone and their monkey’s uncle weigh in. Many people feel because they eat, they must know a thing or two about food. I am all for the democratic process but when building a document as important as the new Food Guide the final decisions must be based in food and nutrition scientific evidence, not popular opinion. Should the loud minority be hushed by making changes? I certainly hope not. Decisions need to be made seeped in evidence – period.

For example, just because a very small percentage of the population don’t drink milk in their culture shouldn’t mean we remove that section of the guide, especially if a vast majority of the population benefit by it. I am sure the Canadian Consumer Health Survey results are in and I’m guessing the findings about what Canadians are eating are grim, thus the need to make such sweeping change. I surmise that Canadians are snacking more of ultra processed food, cooking less, not meeting requirements for essential nutrients, eating alone and eating out a lot. If one nutrient rich food, such as milk can single handedly fill an array of nutrient gaps for many age and gender groups when you do a modelling exercise, wouldn’t that be a good reason to keep it in the new guide? Including nutrient rich choices makes sense. I have many more reasons why dairy belongs in the guide: Don’t be a dairy contrarian?

The Ugly

Creating this is difficult enough with food and nutrition as the primary focus, but Health Canada wants to pull in environmental sustainability too. I want to believe this can be included, but I encourage them to put food and nutrition as the primary goals and the environment as a secondary one, after all it’s a Food Guide.

Look folks, I’m all for “making our planet great again”. In my very household, we are getting rid of two gas guzzling vehicles and replacing them with one electric car, putting solar panels on the roof and more (and yo, if you see me hitch hiking by the side of the road because I forgot to recharge my car like I sometimes do with my phone, have a heart and give me a lift, would you?). In the balancing act of creating a new guide and covering all of the evidence-based food and nutrition bases, making the environment central to the decision making might be a stretch, especially if we end up nixing important dietary elements because of it. Don’t bite off more than you can chew by trying to be all things to all people.

You don’t know what you don’t know, you know! I have been a sad spectator of this “gluten-free” craze over the years. It’s been “a thing” for much longer than expected unfortunately. I know some intelligent people who have assimilated that “a diet must be healthier without gluten” because we’re still bombarded with all of these alternate facts and nonsense for so long. Alternative facts are permeating people’s consciousness as a consequence. If Health Canada decides to remove the dairy group to shut the loud minority up, I worry people might make similar wrong assumptions.

Empower the People!

If Health Canada wants to empower Canadians to make better food choices, then they should be committed to providing the best tools to do so. Usher in a better Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP) for instance. If you want Canadians to eat less sugar, add that line with grams of added sugar per serving right on the panel? Also, while the Skip the Dishes app seems to be all the rage as consumers eat out more, why not mandate all of the NFP information be available to Canadians for restaurant food, starting with fast food. The fact that only a few tidbits of nutrition information of menus is available in various provinces isn’t something to cheer about. Consumers need all of this info available in every province now. What are you waiting for Health Canada?

Alas, I applaud the Food Directorate’s efforts in this painstaking exercise. Do keep food and nutrition scientific evidence as your primary focus and don’t let popular opinion of the loud minority influence your decisions. Get all of your policy ducks in a row – from food labels for all food Canadians consume – packaged and restaurant food alike. Don’t make sweeping change for the sake of making change. Include dietitians as the “go to” experts to help Canadians make sense of all of the food and nutrition non-sense. And at the end of the day, realize that whatever you decide, people won’t be holding hands and singing Kumbaya, but it is a necessary task nonetheless.
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