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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Body Affirming Movement Challenges Obesity Paradigm

Warmth escapes from under the covers as you reach over to check the clock. 6:07AM. What motivates you for an early morning run or yoga class? Happiness in your body’s capabilities? Love for the early bird yoga class? Or a sense of shame about your muffin top? Health at every size (HAES) movement devotees say – shame gets you nowhere.
It’s been more than three decades since the public health community began tracking obesity in America. While we rely on medical and public health professionals to help us understand the scope and nature of this problem, it can’t remain the singular authority on obesity and what it means for each of us. Thought leaders and social influencers are starting to introduce sociological ways of thinking about obesity. Fat studies are now offered as an academic course of study in many American universities, and reputable academic publishing firms are hosting more fat studies journals and related fields of social science research, similar to how women’s studies came to the fore in the late 1970s.
The HAES movement is a growing response in this vein to the dominant scientific discourse on obesity that has historically equated lower body weights with improved health. This school of thought proposes that fatness does not necessarily cause sickness and that losing weight may not improve overall health. The HAES founder and spokesperson Dr. Linda Bacon urges followers to concentrate on exercising every day, listening to your body for fullness and true hunger cues and to not let weight loss or diet goals overshadow your sense of self-worth.
When you dig deeper into the HAES movement, there’s more than a simple challenge to a traditional view of the obesity epidemic. At its core is an affirmation that doing what you love, being kind to your body and embracing physicality are ingredients for happiness – and health often follows happiness. (This fierce lady in the video with her *serious* dance moves and sex appeal says it all).
I find the positive simplicity of this message hard to refute. For all of us working to shape the public discourse on obesity, this is a perspective to watch play out and listen for in our conversations.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Do You Have Summer Brain?

The moment comes each year when you realize it's officially summertime: when you resurrect the hammock from the attic, hear the slow buzz of a fly through an open window or wipe the juice from a fresh tomato off your chin. We welcome the season of sun, but it changes the way we work.

Teachers have long lamented the “summer brain drain” in students – trapezoids and conjugations are fuzzy memories by the time June’s humming afternoons come around. Getting back into the groove of learning in autumn can be an uphill battle, so much so that the Department of Education has initiated many programs around to country to facilitate summertime learning. And adults are certainly not immune to summer brain – fluctuating vacation schedules and workloads in summertime and nicer weather can distract employees.

But should we fight against the symptoms of summertime? We are creatures who inhabit and are affected our immediate environments, and a change in season can bring a fresh perspective to our work. Here are three ways to let the summertime bug bite you (in a good way):

1.     Look out the window
Daydreaming is a natural function of a creative mind. Some problems we face in our work lives need space and time to unravel and deconstruct. If the weather’s nice outside, don’t be afraid to look out the window and let your mind wander where it will for a few moments – it may lead to the next big idea.

2.     Capitalize on long days to boost energy
Ample daylight bookending the start and end to the average workday in summertime is a great opportunity to get moving more during the week. My favorite summertime tradition is meeting up with a friend for an after-work hike in the Oakland Hills on my way home from the office. Spending more time outside after work makes me feel more refreshed and ready to tackle tough tasks throughout the workweek.

3.     Savor the process
Summertime is all about savoring the season. The meditative quality of shucking corn, swimming and other classic summertime activities applies to work projects too. Allow yourself during the summer months to slow down and pay closer attention to the parts of your job that you love and want to build on for future projects.

The idea behind maintaining a work-life balance isn’t necessarily about balancing commitments – seasonal or otherwise – in the exact same ways at all times.  Our summer brains can teach us the benefits of mental agility as the seasons spin around us.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why the Flex Factor Matters for Long-term Caregivers

This November, San Franciscans may get to vote a new measure into law that benefits an often invisible yet growing legion of workers: long-term caregivers. This week San Francisco Supervisor David Chiu announced a measure that would allow employees who are caregivers to request a flexible work schedule, which includes job sharing, telecommuting or part-time employment.

For many families across the country, being a long-term caregiver is synonymous with being a daughter or son. Most long-term care for the elderly is provided by family and friends who provide care without compensation, sometimes in ways that amount to a full-time job. The tolls exacted on this invisible workforce are high: Caregivers report higher levels of mental and physical health problems, higher levels of stress and more reduced productivity in their places of employment than non-caregivers.

The 9 to 5 equation just doesn’t add up for the way American families operate today. Increasingly, households depend on two full-time incomes, not just one primary breadwinner, and work weeks for earners in a family often stretch beyond 40 hours. The system just isn’t operable, especially for those working adults who are providing long-term care to aging parents and raising children at home at the same time.

Accommodating family-based care with more sensible working arrangements could improve not only the quality of life for these working adults, but also the cherished elders in their care. This measure also allows companies to head off lost productivity issues at the pass. When needs are met through flexible work schedules, employees will be happier, have more energy and contribute more to the company environment.

Chiu’s measure is not only compassionate, it makes good fiscal sense.

Check out for resources and information on planning long term care