Doing Life Together

scaleLosing weight seems to be a life long trial for so many of us.

Let’s just say that getting on the scale is a sometimes depressing event. I know it is important to weigh yourself regularly in order to keep your weight down. This has been conformed by studies-people who weigh regularly keep their weight off. I confess, I have gotten away from that regular habit. One reason the habit is important because it guards against weight creep. You know, the few pounds that attach themselves to your body without you noticing!

Well I’ve had more than a creep, it’s now a crawl. I put on a dress I wore a year ago for our medical school’s white coat ceremony and it was really tight, really, really tight! So much so, I couldn’t wear it. Then I jumped on the scale and have gained a full ten pounds!

So I began to think, hmmm, not much has changed on the eating front. In fact, I don’t eat that many calories a day. And I am not in denial about this! But I am still gaining weight.

What has changed dramatically is my physical activity. For the past year I have been sitting at a desk developing curricula. And when I looked at one of my previous blog’s, Sitting is the New Smoking, I knew what the weight gain was all about.

And if I need a little reminder from my blog, too much sitting is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and early death from all causes. That’s right, the World Health Organization puts sitting or physical inactivity 4th on the list of risk factors for death worldwide. Death is a good motivator for me.

Honestly I don’t have time to exercise like I used to, but if I am going to keep my weight down, I have to find a way. Studies confirm this. More Americans are eating less, but are still overweight.

So join me America. Not only do we have to pay attention to what we eat, but we have to ramp up the physical activity. I have an idea of what I am going to do that will not require me to talk myself into going to the gym when I am exhausted. This is key-find something that works for you and make the time. I’m working it in to my schedule like meals.

Exercise is not something I like, but since I don’t have time for tennis or pilates classes anymore, I have to figure it out. I’m getting a mini trampoline called a rebounder that I can bounce in front of my TV at night. It just might work. It’s worth a try because I don’t feel I can cut the calories much more.

bullyJerry struggled with not wanting to go to school. His parents noticed how anxious he was and finally learned that a bully was making Jerry’s life miserable.

When Jerry reported this behavior to one of his teachers, the teacher downplayed the bullying and told Jerry to “just deal with it.”

Bullying is a known to negatively impact a child’s mental health. But would you be surprised to learn that bullying has a greater impact on some children than abuse?

What happens to kids who are bullied? It’s a question educators and parents need to know.

A longitudinal study of over 5000 English and American children provides some answers. The study concluded that being bullied by peers puts you at risk for mental health problems as adults. Those problems include depression, anxiety, suicidality or self-harm. The risk was higher for kids bullied, than for children who were maltreated by adults.

Child maltreatment was defined as physical, emotional maltreatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment resulting in potential or actual harm to a child. When you combine the mistreatment of a child by an adult with bullying by a peer, the combination also leads to adult mental health problems.

The American children who were bullied but not abused were five times more likely to suffer anxiety. The English children in that same category suffered more depression and self-harm as adults.

So while we need to keep preventing child abuse, programs to eliminate bullying need to remain front and center on the minds of educators and parents.


men women talkingRobert is at an  office party. He’s been working hard and wants to win over his colleagues and make a good impression. He’s wondering if there is anything he can do right now to win people over. Actually, there is, especially when it comes to his nonverbal behavior.

1) When Robert talks, he should nod his head. Nodding gets people to not only agree with you more, but also judge you as telling the truth. So get that head nodding but also…

2) Make eye contact, but not constant eye contact. Here, too much of a good thing can feel a little creepy. If you never take your eyes off the person when you are talking, they might feel you are being too aggressive. So break away that eye contact now and then. You will come across as more friendly and trustworthy.

3) Open your hand rather than point your finger when you want to direct someone or point to another person. An open hand conveys trust. Pointing is perceived as aggressive.

4) Look at your feet when you are talking to someone. Feet pointed toward the person conveys interest and listening. Feet pointed away is not a good sign. It’s like the person is mentally moving away (their feet have already turned to start walking) and is disinterested in what you are saying.

5) Is anyone making eye contact with you when they laugh? The person who looks at you when a group is laughing is probably feeling the closest to you. Pay attention to this sign as it signals trust and bonding.



argueFive years ago, there was no conflict. Renee and Jerry decided to have children. At the time, both felt it was best for Renee to stay home with the children while Jerry worked outside the home.

Recently, Renee was having a tough day, complaining about the children and feeling left out of adult life. In a moment of anger, Jerry said, “Why are you complaining about your day. You are at home with the kids. How hard can that be?”

Renee couldn’t believe what she heard and was deeply hurt. When Jerry saw Renee’s reaction, he was surprised. What was he missing here? Actually, a lot! Jerry and Renee started to fight.

1) Jerry wasn’t paying attention Renee’s needs and emotions. He didn’t know her inner world and how to respond to it. Just because she agreed to stay home didn’t mean the adjustment was easy.  A deeper issue was at work—the need to be validated for a job that doesn’t have immediate benefits and is often devalued in our culture. Renee had willingly given up a lucrative career because she believed being a full time mom was important. Instead of minimizing her struggles, Jerry needed to listen and validate them. Strategy 1: Stay attuned to your partner’s needs and validate them.

2) A one time agreement may have to be renegotiated as a couple lives out their decisions. Reality often looks different than an idea or plan. Flexibility is needed. Were there ways Renee could reconnect with other professional women upon occasion? Could the couple plan a regular night out to reconnect as husband and wife? Should Jerry and Renee do a regular check to see how this arrangement is going and decide if adjustments were needed? Strategy 2: Remain flexible to change and make adjustments along the way. 

3) Many homemaking tasks are menial and not exciting, but required when two people live together and create a family. The couple could approach some of those menial tasks together; get them done so they can have time to do fun things. When they share responsibilities and mutually support one another, this brings satisfaction. Strategy 3: Balance the workload in order to spend time together strengthening yourself as a couple.

4) Couples need to do “weather” checks. A weather check is asking the other person, on a regular basis, if things are cloudy, getting a little stormy, or maybe sunny. How are we doing today? Okay? Is there anything we need to talk about? Strategy 4: Show concern for each other’s well-being by regularly asking how the person is doing.

Relationships need constant attention and discussion in order to keep conflict at bay. Otherwise, problems build, explosions happen and no one is feeling the love. If you can add these 4 strategies to your relationship, conflict is less likely to happen.