Posts filed under ‘peer pressure’

Following Up on Paying Up

Lazy Man and Money has a two-part post that expands nicely on my post about paying for bad habits.  These entries very clearly outline the challenges involved with penalizing people for purported “bad” behavior. 

February 22, 2008 at 7:06 am Leave a comment

Doing It in the Fattest City

Las Vegas is a place of extremes, sometimes polar opposite extremes. There are so many “beautiful people” wandering around, not just on the Strip but also at the local grocery store. Sin City’s penchant for all things sexy means that “hotties” of both genders are more prevalent here than most anywhere else in the country.

Strangely enough, the hotties are counterbalanced by those who’ve embraced the City’s abundance with their whole beings – literally. Men’s Fitness magazine has just named Vegas America’s Fattest City for the second year in a row. That need for excess – whatever the activity – apparently translates to our waistlines.

The Men’s Fitness study, which first came out ten years ago, determines a city’s fitness or fatness using nearly two dozen factors. The factors include a “…city’s sports participation rates, time spent working out, number of parks, average commute time, television viewing rates and legislative health initiatives.”

What does this designation mean to me?

It makes me even more proud that I’ve accomplished what I have in the last five years because I’ve been living in the heart of the lion’s den, so to speak.

My success also supports a premise I’ve postulated before: environment doesn’t determine success or failure in losing weight and getting healthy. It can be done under any set of circumstances. Sure, it’s nice to have bike paths and healthy workplaces and community events built around sports and exercise. Not having them, though, doesn’t mean you’re destined to live large in a recliner for the rest of your life.

If you decide you want to change your habits, you can do it, regardless of whether you live in the fattest city in the U.S. or the fittest (which – by the way – happens to be Colorado Springs, according to Men’s Fitness). It may be harder to do depending on where you live and what conditions you’re presented with, but it can be done. And that’s the key message: it CAN be done.

February 12, 2008 at 3:27 am Leave a comment

Bad Habits? Pay Up?!

Free Money Finance asks “Should Unhealthy People Pay More for Medical Insurance?”  Knowing the skyrocketing costs of medical coverage, FMF doesn’t have a problem with charging those who smoke, overeat or don’t exercise more money for their healthcare. He wonders, though, how to handle those who cost the system more due to conditions beyond their control.  He recognizes that this possible solution to excessive medical costs has some complicated elements to work out.

I am reluctant to penalize or legislate for “bad” personal habits. To me, it’s a slippery slope. It’s too easy to label things “bad” without enough data to support the designation. Think of how often contradictory medical evidence comes out in the press. Letting prevailing customs determine what’s acceptable is also risky. When we start down that road, we teeter on the edge of creating a repressive society like those in countries we strive to liberate.

Obviously, healthcare costs are soaring, and employers face an increasing burden in paying the bulk of the fees for us. Something absolutely has to change. But I think there are other ways to deal with the problem than making those with “bad” habits pay up.

For instance, how about promoting health on the job, rather than punishing people? The National Federation of Independent Business has 10 great ways to encourage a healthy workplace.

DISCOUNTS. Contact health-food stores, gyms and fitness centers and other health-oriented businesses. Many will offer discount programs to your employees.

EDUCATION. Keep materials available in your employee break room on current health topics. These can include fact sheets on common treatments and preventive health as well as popular health magazines.

HEALTHY FOOD. Sponsoring a workplace party or gathering? Consider serving heart-healthy food.

INCENTIVES. A small but growing number of business firms throughout North America provide in-house support for employees trying to become healthier. Initiatives include quit-smoking clinics, weight-loss reduction programs and exercise coaching. Many companies provide prizes or bonuses to employees who reach pre-determined health goals.

IN-HOUSE CLINICS. Check with your local public health department, HMO or health-insurance carrier to see if they’ll run an annual or twice-yearly health fair. These events usually include blood pressure checks, cholesterol screenings and mini-seminars on hot-button health topics.

LEAVE ALLOWANCES. Progressive businesses provide a non-punitive leave allowance policy–a certain number of hours or days that employees can use to care for themselves while ill or even while feeling under the weather. Better yet, establish leave policies that allow parents to care for ill children.

MODELING. If you’re in a position of leadership and authority, you’re also in a position to serve as a role model of good health. Be sure your people know about your positive exercise, nutrition and health education habits.

STRESS AWARENESS. Progressive managers are always on the lookout for signs of unrelieved stress. A few common signs are short-tempered employees, rapidly diminishing productivity or increasing errors and inexplicable fatigue. By intervening with temporary assignments, offers of assistance or even simple words of reassurance, you can often ward off health problems and even enhance employee retention.

SUPPORT SERVICES. Many businesses maintain contractual arrangements with employee service organizations to provide third-party counseling on drug and alcohol issues, recommend treatment or even provide guidance on other life issues. One of the upshots of such an arrangement is that you can refer employees with known substance abuse problems for assistance.

VALUES. Clearly and firmly state your belief in the importance of healthy living. Place the statement in your employee handbook and other employee communications, and praise employees who practice good habits.

Employee wellness programs are fairly new, so I’m not sure what stats are available to confirm their success or failure. Regardless, I think a reward-based system is going to be much more effective in the long run than one that’s punitive.

February 6, 2008 at 6:03 am 4 comments

Double Whammy: Update

I did it!  I got through the night without eating a single piece of pizza.  I did indulge in one small bite of a breadstick, but that was it.  When 3 a.m. tummy growling woke me up, I ate the last Hungry Girl Yum Yum Brownie Muffin I had in the fridge.  These delicious muffins are made with Pillsbury Reduced Sugar Devils Food Cake and canned pumpkin, so they’re low-calorie (160 or so) and high in nutrients.  Not a bad swap.

Having survived the pitfalls of last night, I’m ready to tackle a new day.  🙂

February 1, 2008 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

Double Whammy

Some days, it’s brutally hard to stick to my eating goals.  Since the beginning, for some strange reason, I’ve been extremely consistent with my exercise.  In the entire five years I’ve been making this lifestyle change, I’ve kept up with my workouts.  I’ve only gone without exercising at most two weeks once or twice during that time period.

Eating is a whole different story.  It’s a constant challenge.  Easy days are few and far between.  Unfortunately, my BF occasionally adds to the difficulty.  Although he’s making baby steps in developing a healthy diet, he still eats all kinds of things that are tremendous trigger foods for me: pizza, nachos, other types of fast food. 

Tonight was a double whammy.  He wanted Mexican.  He’s always gracious and thoughtful about asking what I would like.  He knows that his food choices can be hard for me, and he always gives me the option to get what I’d like.  Because I was very close to my calorie limit for the day (a new, lower limit I’d recently set for myself), there was really nothing that was going to work for me, so I went with Mexican.  I ordered a small shrimp taco and ate the innards, tossing out the two small flour tortillas that came with it.  He got a beef taco, a beef and bean burrito and beef nachos.  Normally, I can afford to eat some of the nachos because my calorie limit is higher.  Plus, I like them with sour cream and guacamole, two condiments that he can’t stand.  Tonight, the restaurant loaded the nachos up with both SC and G.  There was no way my BF could salvage any of those tortilla chips, which meant they were all left for me.

After keeping my calories fairly low all day, I was extremely hungry, and the nachos were exactly the way I like ’em… the way I love ’em, actually.  I ate a few of them and then had to force myself to throw the rest away.  It took every ounce of willpower I had to do it.  Once they were in the trash, I thought I was over the hump.  My BF said his taco and burrito would suffice.  I fixed myself some diet cocoa with sugar-free Torani syrup and breathed a sigh of relief.

Suddenly, though, he decided that he was going to have pizza and breadsticks delivered.  I bit my lip and thought, “you can do it; you can resist”.  When the order arrived, the smell was fantastic.  I kept eyeing his plate as he was munching away.  The only thing that kept me from running into the kitchen and grabbing a slice and a stick was remembering the night before, when we were out at our favorite bar and a friend of my BF’s noted how I’d lost more weight and said I was “hot”.

It took a Herculean effort on my part not to give in to the nachos… well, not to give in to them more than I did… and the pizza.  Of course, there’s still pizza and breadsticks left in the fridge, and the night looms ahead.  I am taking it hour by hour and hoping that sleep will see me through the potential danger. 

The worst of it is that I don’t feel victorious.  I could have done so much worse with my eating tonight than I did, and yet I feel like a failure, like I’ve let myself down by not sticking with my original goal for the day.

I remind myself that I can only do what I can do… that lasting success means living in the real world where not everyone keeps as spartan a pantry as I do… that I obviously must be doing something right if I’ve lost 114 pounds and continue to keep it off.  That’s all true, but tonight it’s not helping.  😦

February 1, 2008 at 6:49 am Leave a comment

You’re One of Those Healthy People

“Oh, you’re one of those healthy people.”

A colleague in my building at work said that to me this afternoon. We had bumped into each other outside the stairwell and were chatting about her department’s work. As I headed into the stairs to do my sets, she said those words. Her tone clearly indicated that she did not think well of “those healthy people”

As I proceeded to finish up my 15 sets of stairs (1st through 4th floors), I pondered her comment.  What did she mean by that?  Why is being a “healthy person” a negative?

I admit my approach to diet and exercise is a little quirky. After all, I started by working out in a storage room. I use a stability ball as my office chair, and I do multiple sets of stairs every day as my cardio workout. Most people are more mainstream in their exercise regimens: walks around the block, DVDs at home, or going to the gym.

I don’t think it was what I was doing, though, that put her off. I think it was the fact I was doing it at all. Some people seem to find healthy – or even alternative – behavior offensive. I’ve experienced a similar reaction when I am the only one not drinking in a group of people. For some reason, they become cross with me about it. Why? It has no impact on them if I don’t do what they’re doing. I’m not telling them to stop what they’re doing. I am merely making a different choice that works for me.

Perhaps they think I’m quietly judging them. Or, maybe they are judging themselves through me.

What do you think?

January 15, 2008 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

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