romantic couple watching television at homeYou know that black hole of time between work and bed? There’s nowhere to go, nothing new to watch, and a bottle of wine (or bag of chips) calling your name from the other room. Call it the pandemic happy hour or straight-up boredom, but if you’re using your after hours time in a less-than-ideal way, check out this week’s post from PHCI Coaching Director, Erin Power. And keep your questions coming in our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group or below in the comments.

Ann Marie asked:

I don’t have a problem eating healthy during the day, but I can’t seem to control myself after dinner. I just feel ravenous, even when we’ve made a healthy meal. I try to hold out but once my husband goes into the kitchen for a snack, I’m right there with him. And once I start, I can’t stop eating!! How do I tame my late-night cravings?

I think it’s safe to say that your eating cycle is off, Ann Marie. What do I mean by eating cycle? It has to do with your circadian rhythm.‘>2

This study looked at the behaviours of night-shift workers and found that they have a 43% higher risk of obesity than their 1st shift counterparts.‘>4 The group whose window ended at 3pm had dramatically lower insulin levels, reduced blood pressure, and a significantly decreased appetite. More information on Intermittent Fasting here. 

  • Stop grazing throughout the day. I’m a huge advocate of always answering hunger with a meal versus grabby something snacky. Make it a habit to sit down (and slow down) for your meals, ensuring you’re in a parasympathetic state so you can properly digest your food.
  • Michael asked:

    My glass-of-wine-a-night habit is getting a little out of hand. I used to have a glass here and there, but lately I’ve found myself pouring multiple glasses every night. Think I need to go cold turkey? Or do you recommend a healthier substitute?

    I can’t tell you how often I’ve gotten questions like this – especially over the past 9 months. While in the past, you might have had a commute or trip to the gym to decompress from your day, now there’s no real distinction between work and leisure. There’s no change of scenery and no change of people to interact with. Enter wine (or whatever your escape of choice happens to be).

    I don’t necessarily think you have to go cold turkey, unless you’ve noticed that alcohol in general is a problem for you.‘>6 But if you enjoy having your nightly glass of wine, I’ve got a few strategies to help you reel it back in.

    1. Support your body with nourishing food. Preparing and enjoying a satiating meal can help you tap the breaks on filling up on less-than-nourishing choices. Alcohol turns to sugar in the body, so loading up on protein and healthy fats can keep those cravings at bay.
    2. Drink a non-alcoholic beverage first. Got a favorite alcohol-free drink? Pour a glass of bubbly water or kombucha before diving into the adult version. You might find that you don’t even want your drink of choice afterward. But if you do, go for it! Heck, you can even use a wine glass if you feel like being fancy.
    3. Distract yourself. Seems simple enough, but if you’re bored or stressed or not sure how to spend your downtime, finding a way to change your situation can keep you from polishing off a bottle of cab. Even though you’re probably home all day, I’m sure there are areas of your house that could use some attention. So, start a load of laundry. Iron that pile of clean clothes you’ve been staring at all month. Or clean the clutter off your desk.

    Between the pandemic and the holidays, the kind of stress we’re under is unprecedented, so it’s natural that alcohol plays a role here, but it doesn’t have to derail your entire evening.

    Peter asked:

    Even though I’m working from home, my days are packed and the only time I have to work out is after dinner. Problem is, I’m so exhausted by then that all I want to do is lay on the couch. I’m not overweight and my fitness level is pretty good. I’m wondering, how bad is it to take a break from exercising for a while?

    If your fitness level is generally good, taking a few days or weeks off isn’t going to impact your muscle-to-fat ratio that much. That said, there are tons of studies like this one that prove daily exercise can improve your immune function, which is especially important right now.‘>1 There are restrictions at stores and restaurants. And, in some places, limited supplies of groceries and household items.

    One thing that looks the same (at least with my health coaching clients) is the internal dilemma of whether or not they’re going to stick with their healthy eating habits or say “Screw it!” and dive into a plate of real bread stuffing, cornstarch-thickened gravy, and multiple slices of pecan pie.

    On one hand, there’s the philosophy that holidays are a special occasion and should be treated as such. And that includes all the traditional carb-laden goodies. On the other hand, there are people who are 100 percent committed to their Primal lifestyle and prepare their holiday feast accordingly.

    Let me emphatically state that there’s no right or wrong answer here.

    Just Don’t Call it a ‘Bad Food Day’

    Honestly, I don’t care if you indulge in several servings of green bean casserole or marshmallow-crusted sweet potatoes. What I do care about is the level of guilt you carry around with you after doing so.

    What does guilt have to do with food? Guilt is the feeling that you’ve done something wrong. At a young age, most of us are taught the difference between right and wrong. So, in a general sense, you might feel guilty if you stole something, hurt someone, or got caught up in a lie. On the other hand, you might have been rewarded or praised for doing something right (i.e. getting good grades, helping a neighbor, doing chores without being asked).

    Examples of Food Guilt:

    • I shouldn’t have another piece
    • Dessert/bread/wine is unhealthy
    • Once I start, I can’t stop
    • I’ve totally blown it
    • I don’t want to see the scale tomorrow

    Diet culture tells us to feel bad if we overeat or indulge in *forbidden* foods. It says that a higher number on the scale is equal to lower self-worth. Don’t get me wrong, certain foods come with consequences. Depending on your bio-individuality, foods with higher amounts of sugar, industrialized oils, and artificial ingredients might leave you feeling foggy, fatigued, bloated and on the fast-track to chronic disease. But moralizing foods for their good vs bad qualities always backfires.

    Metabolism is Influenced by State of Mind

    In addition to the heavy emotional baggage you have to carry, deeming certain foods as negative actually discourages metabolic activity.‘>3 Across the board, they found that the food guilt group had higher scores in the areas of binge eating, low self-esteem, isolation, and avoidance coping.‘>1 If this is the case with you, I have a better solution than doling out energy-boosting snack ideas…or napping.

    1. The lowest hanging fruit here is to manage your post-lunch sleepiness by swapping refined carbs for satiating and blood sugar stabilizing protein and fat. Maybe a Big Ass Salad or some leftover roasted chicken and veggies with butter. Even a handful of mixed nuts is better than a sandwich.
    2. It’s not always food related though. You have a natural drop in energy as part of human circadian biology. And it comes, you guessed it, about mid-afternoon. Knowing that your body has a built-in lull that happens around 3pm, the best thing you can do is anticipate it and plan accordingly. That means don’t schedule any overly draining tasks during that time. Instead, practice a little self-care and schedule in 15 minutes of stretching, walking outside, or listening to energizing music.
    3. Another possibility for your slump is mental drain. Even if your workday isn’t overly stressful, everything else in the world is right now, so again, cut yourself some slack and pay attention to how drained you feel on a daily basis. It could just be that by 3pm your brain (and your central nervous system) are so tapped that it signals a reset (i.e. you to take a nap). To avoid burnout, I like productivity apps like Focus Keeper. This one’s based on the Pomodoro Technique and breaks your day into 25-minute focus sessions, followed by 5-minute breaks.
    4. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you’re not breathing. And by “not breathing” I mean, you’re taking small shallow breaths that rob your brain of oxygen. Chances are you spend most of your day hunched over your computer, which compromises your breathing and your energy flow. Next time you feel that midday lull, think about the last time you took a good, deep breath, then sit up straight and take six slow deep breaths.

    Test out any of these tips and my guess is you’ll feel better fairly quickly, no snack required.

    Valerie asked:

    “I’ve lost 40 pounds following the Primal Blueprint and have about 5 more to go. The problem is, I feel hungry all the time, so I either eat or try and white knuckle it! How do I tame my hunger?”

    You’re not alone here Valerie. This is one of the most common challenges I hear from my clients. “I would have done better this week, but I was SO HUNGRY!” Common diet culture says you should eat healthy meals and snacks every 2-3 hours if you want to keep your blood sugar stable and keep hunger at bay.

    My opinion? You shouldn’t have to feed your body every 3 hours to do either of those things. You also shouldn’t fear hunger. We’ve all been led to believe that hunger is bad — that it’s the one thing that stands between you and your weight loss goals.

    Here’s the deal though. Hunger is actually a loving, protective signal from your miraculous body. It’s one of your most primitive survival mechanisms. It’s how your body makes sure you’re fueled sufficiently so that you can function properly.

    The clients I work with claim to feel hungry “all the time”, which to me, indicates that they’re out of touch with their body. Sometimes it starts as a kid — if you’ve been told to finish your plate, regardless of whether or not you were hungry. And sometimes it’s in the ultra-processed foods you eat which unapologetically mess with your hormones. Certain foods inhibit your ability to recognize when you’re full — they literally confuse your brain into thinking you need to eat more.‘>2

    Not only that, when faced with tasks of mixed urgency and importance, participants in this study prioritized to-dos that were time-sensitive over ones that were less urgent but had a greater reward‘>1

    At first glance, the issue is pretty straightforward, right? There’s not enough time. There are only 24 hours in a day anyway. But here’s the deal, people who feel like they have the least amount of free time, the ones who feel the most overworked, are actually doing it to themselves.

    In this study, researchers had 7,000 participants estimate how much time was needed to accommodate their basic needs compared to how much free time they had in their schedules.‘>3 Here’s why.

    If you choose not to make meal prepping a priority (or at least keeping healthy food on hand), the consequences might be that you find yourself grabbing snacks throughout the day, ordering less-than-healthy takeout, or not eating enough quality food, which can bring on an afterhours binge. And the consequences of those actions might mean you’re feeling foggy and fatigued day after day, making it even more difficult to do all the things you need to do.

    Keep in mind, these are just consequences of your choices.

    Also, you mention that you love the way you feel when you eat clean, so, you already know it’s worth it to take good care of yourself. You know how it feels when you can’t stop snacking on goldfish crackers in front of the TV versus the satisfaction you get from sitting down for a well-balanced meal eaten slowly where you enjoy every freaking bite!

    While you might not have time to spend hours in the kitchen, how about throwing something in the crockpot before the day begins? Or making a big batch of chili or stew over the weekend. Or roasting a whole chicken and some veggies in the oven.

    Again, it comes down to choices and priorities. How great would it be to have more focus throughout the day because you decided to put your health first? How amazing would it be to feel energized into the evening hours instead of feeling drained? By making a simple shift in your priorities, you could see a dramatic swing in how you feel throughout the day.

    Adam asked:

    “I’m really struggling here. With all the time I spend reading labels and tracking my macros, I’m finding that the effort is becoming greater than the benefit. I’m doing all these things but not really noticing any results. What gives?”

    Ah, the sweet reward of bigger biceps or a smaller pant size. You’re not alone in wanting results. That’s why health and fitness is a $4.5 trillion industry.‘>5 Sometimes the tasks involved high effort, other times it involved a low amount of effort. They found that the participants who put in more effort responded to the reward with less enthusiasm than those who put in less work.

    You can blame the nucleus accumbens for that.‘>7

    For instance, I follow the Primal way of eating fairly closely, as you might expect.‘>3

    So, there are definitely pluses.

    However, the negative aspects of a refeed might outweigh the benefits, and it looks like you’re noticing some of those negatives right now.

    A lot of people view the way they eat as a diet, which to me, implies a temporary lifestyle change. If that’s the case with you, you might be using your cheat meal to reward yourself for making good choices. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can backfire, leading to overeating, bloating, and a host of other detrimental consequences. And that’s just during the cheat meal itself.

    While some people find that a cheat meal reduces their hunger the next day, it sounds like your body is getting a different message. Your body might not recognize that your refeed is over, so it sends you the signal to keep eating all the carbs. That’s what makes a cheat meal turn into a cheat day or even a whole cheat weekend.

    My goal as a health coach is to help my clients develop an effortless relationship with food. One where there’s no “good” or “bad” foods, no need to refeed, no yo-yo-ing, and no feelings of guilt, shame, or days spent white-knuckling it through cravings.

    If cheat meals work for you, more power to you. But (and this is just a hunch here), I don’t think they do. I think they cause more challenges than they’re worth. You might be better off to adopt an 80/20 split where you focus on the foods that make your body feel good 80% of the time and let life happen the other 20%.

    Marc asked:

    “I feel pretty awful about some of the things I feed my kids, but they’re picky eaters. Any tips or tricks for making the transition to a primal diet with young children or is it better to wait ‘til they’re older and have a more mature palette?”

    I don’t have kids, so I can’t personally comment on that from a parental perspective. But most of my clients are moms and dads, so I’ll ask you the same question I ask them when this topic comes up.

    Who does the grocery shopping in your house? Is it your kids? Or is it you and/or your partner? I realize I’m being a bit sarcastic here, however I’m trying to prove a point.

    Assuming your kids aren’t buying their own food, you actually have a say in what goes in their mouths. If you want them to eat cauliflower rice instead of white rice, don’t buy white rice. If you want them to choose fresh fruit over junk-filled fruit leathers, don’t put them in your cart.

    I already know what you’re thinking. What if they don’t eat? Won’t they starve? How will they get enough nutrients?

    I will gladly answer that with: How many nutrients do you think they’re getting from their grape drink and cheese puffs? Not many. Not only that, you’re slowly setting them up to be part of a growing epidemic of young people who have to manage obesity-related diseases, like type 2 diabetes, before they even move out of the house.‘>5 Here are a few strategies to make the transition easier:

    • Don’t force it. No one likes to be pressured into trying new things — especially when those things are green and leafy and totally foreign to them.
    • Keep it simple. Sometimes kids aren’t being picky with flavors as much as they prefer their food to be less fussy. So, leave the complex sauces and seasonings off the plate for now.
    • Get them involved. Looking through recipes or chopping veggies together helps kids feel like they have a say in the process, giving them a sense of control, which in turn, makes them feel good about choosing healthier options.
    • Walk the talk. Make sure your behaviors match your language. If you want them to eat more Primally, yet you’re stocking up on junk food, it sends mixed messages. Stock your house with foods you want them to eat and leave the other stuff at the store.

    What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Share your experiences in the comments.


    The post Ask a Health Coach: How Bad Is It Really? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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    body image kidsI belong to a ladies’ trail running community online. These women are cool, badass humans who perform amazing feats with their bodies. Last month, someone asked the group if they ever struggle with body image. The responses were overwhelmingly affirmative. Hundreds upon hundreds of women responded, “Yes! Me. Every single day.” Only a very few said no.

    It was eye-opening and also woefully unsurprising. Most adults I know struggle with body image on some level.

    Those of us who are parents would love to spare our children from this emotional baggage, but how do we help our kids develop healthy body image in today’s world? We’re up against massive biological and, especially, social forces. Humans are hardwired to see — and judge — faces and bodies, looking for signs of friendliness, similarity, and fertility. Our early survival as a species depended on it.

    The modern diet and beauty industries have taken these natural propensities and exploited them to the nth degree. They bombard us with messaging, both subtle and overt, telling us we must do everything in our power to be as physically attractive as possible. No amount of time or money is too much to invest in the quest for beauty and the “perfect” physique. Oh, and definitely don’t show any signs of aging. The wrinkles, gray hair, and natural softening of the body that comes with growing older? Not allowed! Obviously, if you fail to live up to the ever-changing ideal, it is 100 percent your fault.

    Short of moving to the woods and disconnecting from society entirely, we can’t keep our kids from being exposed. Our best hope is to help them develop a healthy body image early. Give them a strong foundation so when they inevitably get caught up in Hurricane Diet Culture, they may waver, but they’ll stay standing.

    The strategy is two-fold: First, do your best not to repeat and perpetuate the culture that creates insecurity and negative body image. Second, teach kids to trust, respect, and appreciate their bodies regardless of appearance.

    Instantly download your FREE guide to gut health

    What is a Healthy Body Image, Anyway?

    If you had asked me this a couple years ago, I would have said it’s feeling attractive in your own skin. You should love your body and feel confident no matter what you look like because all bodies are beautiful.

    My thinking has changed, though. Now I think a healthy body image means seeing your body as worthy of care and respect — especially self-care and self-respect — period. Instead of focusing on self-love and feeling attractive, I hope my children respect their bodies, want to be good stewards of their health, and anchor their self-worth and self-esteem in factors other than physical appearance.

    This isn’t the definitive definition of healthy body image. It’s what we strive for in our family. I don’t pretend that society doesn’t care about appearance, nor tell them that they shouldn’t care either. That would be impossible. Rather, I want them to know that their appearance is only one of many of their qualities, by far not the most interesting or important one, and certainly not the one that determines their value as a person.

    9 Ways to Support Healthy Body Image in Kids

    I’ll tell you up front: you probably do some of these things “wrong” right now. That’s natural. As parents, we try to bolster our children’s self-esteem. As Primal enthusiasts, we want to teach them about nutrition and building healthy bodies. Our natural inclinations will sometimes lead us afoul of the recommendations below, which come from childhood body image and eating disorder experts.

    1. Cut The Negative Body Talk

    Negative body talk is when you disparage your own or someone else’s body. It should go without saying that if you want your child to have a healthy body image, don’t criticize their body. That’s the bare minimum. You also have to watch how you talk about other people’s bodies, including your own.

    Kids are always listening and internalizing. Negative body talk communicates to them explicitly or implicitly that some bodies are better. They naturally start to see themselves as objects of judgment and wonder whether their bodies are good enough.

    “Ugh, I look so gross today.”
    “Wow, that person should really avoid spandex, yikes.”
    “That skirt is cute, but I can’t wear it with these thighs.”
    “I have to put on makeup before this Zoom so I look presentable. Nobody wants to see these eye bags.”

    Negative body talk usually comes from a place of insecurity and judgment. It’s also extremely common. Women especially learn that this is a safe way to communicate with female friends.” No dessert for me. I feel so fat today.” “You?! You look amazing. Look at me!” Once you start to tune into it, you realize just how pervasive it is.

    Before commenting on your own or someone else’s body, ask yourself: “What is the underlying message I’m sending my kid with this statement? Could it cause them to feel insecure about their own body?” If yes, keep it to yourself.

    2. Compliment Your Child on Features Other Than Appearance

    Compliments like, “You’re so cute!” or “Don’t you look beautiful in that dress?” are undoubtedly well-meaning. The problem is, they also reinforce to kids that when they are pretty or handsome, that pleases the adults in their life. Being pretty must be important. If they aren’t pretty or handsome, is that displeasing then?

    Of course we think our kids are adorable, but kids don’t need to know they are cute. They need to know they are valued and loved. Try these instead:

    “Thank you for singing me that silly song. It made my heart happy!”
    “You’ve been working so hard on your guitar lessons. You’re really dedicated, that’s awesome.”
    “I love how sparkly your dress is! I can’t wait for you to come home and tell me all about the dance.”

    This also applies when you’re talking about other people. Instead of, “Your friend Lily is so pretty,” go with “I love to listen to Lily laugh,” or “Lily is such a kind friend.”

    3. Focus on What Their Body Does Rather than What It Looks Like

    Bodies are made for function, not for decoration. Not all bodies have the same abilities or chronic health issues, of course, but every body is still miraculous. The fact that synapses fire and hearts beat is amazing. Our bodies are basically sacks of meat and fluid that allow us to move through time and space — wild!

    Help your child celebrate the wondrous things their body does that have nothing to do with how it looks. “I can tell that your soccer drills are helping you dribble with more precision.” “Isn’t climbing trees fun? You pulled yourself up so quickly!”

    4. Speak Respectfully about Your Own Body

    Your body is every bit as wondrous as your child’s, but what do they hear you say about it? Most of us rarely speak positively about our bodies, lest we seem conceited. More to the point, we may find it difficult to find nice things to say about ourselves. It’s bad for our children’s body image, and it’s bad for ours.

    Kids need to see that it’s ok to talk kindly about their bodies. Just as importantly, it’s possible to be neutral and not judge at all. “Flaws” are just features that don’t have to carry a bunch of emotional weight. If your kids are like mine, they will give you plenty of openings to model speaking respectfully about your body.

    “Why is your tummy squishy?” “Tummies come in lots of shapes. This is mine.”
    “What are those scars on your legs?” “Those are stretch marks from when my body grew when I was growing you inside me. I like that they remind me of that special time.”
    “Your arms are flabby.” “I think my arms are perfect for hugging, thank you very much.”

    You can also turn their comments around and ask questions like, “What do you like to do best with your arms?”

    5. Banish Diet and Weight-Loss Talk

    Your kids will get plenty of exposure to weight-loss and diet culture outside the home. They don’t need to know if you’re trying to lose weight. It’s a slippery slope into making them self-conscious about their own bodies.

    The corollary to this is you should avoid labeling some foods as “fattening” or even as “bad.” In fact, avoid attaching good/bad labels to food altogether. This can be especially tricky for us Primal folks who have specific beliefs about what constitutes a healthy way of eating. Lead by example with your food choices. When they inevitably ask why you don’t eat bread or whatever, focus on the pros of the foods you do choose rather than demonizing the foods you avoid. 

    You can say things like, “Bread isn’t working for me right now. I feel like I have the energy to do more fun things when I have lots colorful vegetables instead!”

    You don’t have to pretend all foods are equally nutritious, nor let food be a free-for-all in your house. The goal is to avoid moralizing and creating shame or guilt around food choices. Young kids won’t understand the concept of protein, fats, and carbs, but you can encourage them to eat a rainbow of foods to get lots of different building blocks. With older kids, gently introduce the concept that some foods can help them feel better and have more energy without condemning “junk foods.”

    6. Celebrate Body Diversity

    If everybody ate the same foods and did the same exercises, our bodies would still look different. Some people are tall, short, thin, fat, lean, muscly, blond, brunette. Children will always notice these differences, of course, so teach them to notice without judgment. Human diversity is a part of the awe-inspiring diversity of nature.

    As they grow, your child will start to realize that their bodies are different from their friends’. Help them appreciate that, even — especially — when they are feeling insecure. “Yes, Max is taller than you, that’s true. I wonder how tall you’ll both be as adults. It’s interesting how some people are tall, while others are short. Everyone gets to see the world a little differently!”

    7. Encourage Them to Move for Pleasure

    The purpose of exercise needn’t be losing weight, burning calories, “earning” food, or punishing ourselves for something we already ate. Workouts build muscles, speed, or agility. Play engages body and mind, relieves stress, and offers fun and pleasure. Movement of all types feels good and provides energy. That’s why we should be moving our bodies as much as possible. Sometimes even we grown-ups forget that.

    Some kids are naturally more active than others. If you have a kiddo who’d happily sit and read for 14 hours while their sibling plays in the pool, don’t make it a battle of wills. Lead by example, modeling everyday movement. Plan active family outings. Better yet, ask them to help you plan activities that they’ll enjoy and which the whole family can do together.

    8. Instill Body Trust and Autonomy

    In order for your kids to have a healthy body image, they have to feel connected to their bodies. You can support this by teaching them to trust and respond to their bodies’ signals, and by allowing them, within reason, to make choices about their bodies.

    This one’s hard because you have to cede some control to your kids: letting them eat when you think they should be full, skip a meal when they should be hungry, don shorts on a cold day, wear a shirt that is two sizes too small, or get a haircut that you think is truly wretched. Sometimes it may even mean letting them choose foods for themselves that you usually avoid.

    Think of it as short term pain for long term gain on your part. It might irk the bejeezus out of you when they eat nothing but cheese for lunch for a week, but who’s it hurting really? Nobody who isn’t lactose intolerant.

    9. Teach Media Literacy

    How great would it be if we could wipe out all body insecurity by simply teaching kids that the images they see in the media are the work of glam squads, body shapers, and lots of photoshopping? Alas, it’s not that simple, but it’s still an important lesson as kids get older.

    As they start to notice all the ads for weight-loss programs and laser resculpting, discuss how advertising exploits our insecurities to get us to spend money. Let them be offended by it. Good, maybe they won’t be so easily manipulated.

    Guide them in limiting their exposure to media and accounts that make them feel “less than.” Talk to them about what they see and how it makes them feel.

    Parenting from a Place of Love and Support Rather than Fear

    Years ago, Mark wrote a post about the delicacy of talking to kids about weight. One commenter shared that the best thing their parents could have done would have been to talk to her about weight and health from a place of love instead of judgment and projecting their own fear.

    Fear is understandable. We know that this world is not kind to fat people. Fat children commonly experience bullying.‘>2 Weight stigma, including at the hands of medical professionals, leads to worse health outcomes for both kids and adults, which then gets attributed to the weight itself.‘>4‘>1 Nothing we do as humans proves to be as fulfilling as lending a hand to someone else.

    To test this theory, researchers had participants write either a supportive note to a friend or write about their route to school or work before undergoing a lab-based stress task.‘>3 which refers to “a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs or behaviors.” Which, in real language, means that when a person does a favor for someone they don’t like (or feels neutral about), it creates a mismatched feeling between their actions and their attitude. To avoid cognitive dissonance, your mind essentially makes you believe that you must really value this person in order to do such a nice thing for them. When you ask someone for help, it builds likeability and trust, and starts to form a bond between you and the other person.

    On top of that, asking for help makes you stronger. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to unapologetically ask for help when you need it. While that might feel outside of your comfort zone right now, I can tell you from personal experience that growth happens when you start to get comfortable with a little discomfort. Any time you force yourself to do something outside your norm, you become a stronger person for it.

    How to Get Better at Asking for Help

    Honestly, most people underestimate how willing people are to help them. It could from a limiting belief they have from their past. Or maybe it’s the negative self-talk that creeps up now and then. Or perhaps you’ve had some less-than-awesome people in your life that literally weren’t able or willing to help you. Even if those scenarios ring true for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t get better at asking for the help you need. Keep in mind that these are for non-emergency situations. If you need immediate help, please reach out to a crisis hotline.

    Here’s a quick look at different ways you can make asking for help easier. Hang tight, I’m going to unpack these strategies down below.

    1. Make small requests
    2. Ask people you trust
    3. Be clear about what you’re asking
    4. Focus on the end result
    5. Remove any judgement

    1. Make small requests.

    Big asks can feel daunting, especially at first. So, start by getting comfortable with making smaller ones. Ask your significant other to cook up a pan of eggs and bacon in the morning. Or get your kids to walk with you so you stay on track. Seeing yourself ask for — and receive help gets the ball rolling on building your confidence in this area.

    2. Ask people you trust.

    The risk of being rejected or dismissed drops dramatically when you request help from people you have a solid rapport with. It’s much less scary to be vulnerable with your spouse or family members than it is with your boss or the new guy at work.

    3. Be clear about what you’re asking.

    Assuming people know what you need is the fastest way NOT to get it. Sure, it would be great if people immediately offered to help the second the thought entered your mind, but that’s not how it works. Instead, get clear on what you’re struggling with and what exactly you could use help with (i.e. I’m following the Primal Blueprint, so please don’t bring home donuts). The more you practice asking for help directly, the easier it gets.

    4. Focus on the end result.

    Imagine for a minute that you got all the help you needed. What benefit would that bring you? Would you be less stressed out? Less grumpy? Less apt to skip your workout? By focusing on the outcome, you take the attention away from the uncomfortable feeling of asking and put it on the fantastic feeling of having gotten the help you need.

    5. Remove any judgement.

    Don’t assume you know what people are thinking about you. It’s so easy to presume that you’re a burden or being perceived as weak when you ask for help, but you have no clue what’s going through their mind. Also, don’t compare your struggles to someone else’s. Everyone processes things differently and at different paces.

    And remember, you can always hire a professional to help — in practically any area of your life. That’s what we’re here for!

    Are you good at asking for help? Or is it something you struggle with? Share your experiences in the comments below.


    The post How Do You Start Asking for Help? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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    parental burnout parent overwhelmLast 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.

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    What is Parental Burnout?

    For academics, the term parental burnout has a specific meaning. In 2018, Belgian researchers developed the Parental Burnout Assessment, which comprises four factors:‘>2

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    Risk Factors for Parental Burnout

    Some of the factors that make a parent more vulnerable to burnout are:

    • Holding themselves to unrealistic standards
    • Difficult family situations due to socioeconomic pressures, strain with co-parents, or children with special health or developmental challenges, for example
    • Not wanting to be a parent in the first place
    • Lack of social support, not having a “village”
    • Personality traits like neuroticism, general lack of coping skills

    Is Parental Burnout an Especially Modern Phenomenon?

    Since research into parental burnout is fairly new, there’s no longitudinal data that speaks directly to this. Intuitively, though, it feels like parents today must experience more burnout than previous generations.

    Parenting is continually evolving. Both mothers and fathers spend considerably more time interacting with their kids than they did 50 years ago.‘>4 The financial cost of raising a child continues to rise. Social media presents a host of new challenges—cyberbullying, mommy wars, and FOMO, oh my!

    More to the point, parents face social pressure to be constantly “on” like never before. Sociologists refer to this as intensive parenting, so named by Sharon Hays in her 1996 book The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. Parents, especially mothers, are expected to invest heavily in their children, devoting nearly unlimited time, emotional energy, and money to parenting. Intensive parenting holds that parents are responsible for managing every aspect of kids’ lives, preventing all manner of potential harm, and ensuring the best possible outcomes for their children.

    Clearly, these standards are unattainable for many—perhaps most—parents. In particular, wealth heavily impacts the types of opportunities parents can access for their kids and the amount of time they can devote to parenting. Yet parents across the spectrum endorse intensive parenting ideals.‘>6 Not surprisingly, intensive parenting beliefs are associated with greater stress, depression, anxiety, and guilt for mothers.‘>8‘>10 That doesn’t take into account extenuating circumstances such as having a child with chronic illness, which is known to increase parental stress.‘>12‘>14 At least one study found that mothers and fathers experience parental burnout at the same rate.‘>16

    Are Primal Parents Especially at Risk?

    I’ve been going back and forth on this. On the one hand, isolation and lack of social support are huge risk factors for burnout, and parenting outside the norm can feel lonely. Repeatedly explaining—and defending—your choices to family members, pediatricians, teachers, and fellow parents can be exhausting, especially when they challenge you and call your parenting into question.

    On the other hand, Primal parents may be more comfortable with the idea of free-range parenting—exempting ourselves from the pressures of intensive parenting and opting instead for a more relaxed, less “helicopter-y” style. For these parents, I’d expect burnout to be considerably lower.

    Pandemic Burnout

    Not to ignore the elephant in the room, parenting through a pandemic takes the notion of parental burnout to a whole other level. It’s terribly hard to rely on our villages while adhering to social distancing guidelines. The stress of trying to keep everyone safe, working from home, and carving out time for ourselves can become overwhelming.

    Ironically, though, the pandemic and lockdowns probably alleviated burnout for some parents. We’ve been forced—or rather, given the opportunity—to slow down and spend more time with our kids. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association at the end of May, 82 percent of parents said they were grateful for this extra time.‘>18 So, how about we all try to stop holding ourselves, and each other, to unrealistic standards that make us miserable, okay?

    Stop parenting on social media

    Another big one. Don’t spend valuable time and energy curating a parenting facade on social media. More importantly, stop following people who make you feel “less than” in comparison. You don’t need to compete with other parents to see whose kid is having the most magical childhood. Keep your eyes on your own paper.

    Get help

    You deserve to feel good about yourself as a parent, period. If you don’t, whether it’s because you are overwhelmed or need help developing effective parenting tools, don’t wait until you’re totally underwater. Ask for help now.

    Burnout isn’t an inevitable consequence of modern parenting. Many parents shield themselves from the weight of the expectations and find everyday joy in raising their small humans. It’s not easy… but nothing about parenting is, is it?

    I usually end by asking for feedback, but today I’d just like to offer a virtual high-five, fist bump, or hug to my fellow parents out there. Parenting is tough, but you’re tougher! You’ve got this.


    The post Parental Burnout: What to Do If You Feel Overwhelmed as a Parent appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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