happy monday morning, everyone! i’m excited for today because the new dietary guidelines for americans are being released. i’m interested to see them. i’m planning to do a post about the changes for tomorrow or wednesday. stay tuned!
i had a fabulous weekend in st. louis! i got a couple adjustments, made delicious enchiladas, and spent time with my love. i did have one less-than-perfect experience this weekend that i wanted to write about, though.
i stopped at a supermarket near brad’s clinic when i got to st. louis on friday to pick up a quick snack to hold me over until dinner time. i threw together a small salad from the salad bar and grabbed a kombucha and made my way to the check-out line.
i made conversation with the lady in front of me and i couldn’t help but notice what she was purchasing:
two quarts of ice cream, a 12-pack of soda, a liter of coke, chocolate syrup, a bag of smoothie mix, some grapefruit, steamfresh broccoli, little debbie valentines sweets, and unphotographed were 2 large packages of ground beef. her total was $71.
i just want to say that i did not take this photo to be judgmental or mean. seeing this reminded me of a seminar that i attended last thursday and that i wanted to write about it.
the seminar was presented by dr. dorothy edwards. she does research with stroke victims on the effects of behavioral therapy and changing stroke risk factors. one of her baseline assessments of her subjects is to measure their KNOWLEDGE of some stroke risk factors: smoking, exercise, diet, being at a healthy body weight.
what she found shocked her: these people KNEW what they should be doing to decrease their chance of stroke. it is not a problem of a lack of knowledge in this population (which is largely minority and low social economic status). instead, dr. edwards talked about the fact that her subjects were not making the leap to apply their knowledge into action, even after having a stroke. she said it all came down to motivation. these individuals were not motivated to take their knowledge to the next level.
this reminds me of the study population that i work with. i do interventions to prevent weight gain in the summer in overweight and obese middle school children. when we ask these kids why they are participating in the programs, they say “to get fit”, “to eat healthier”, and even “to lose weight this summer.” when we do education with them, they KNOW that they should eat fruits and vegetables and why, and they KNOW that fried foods, chocolates, donuts, ice cream, etc. aren’t healthy options and should just be treats. but they don’t make any changes to their diets and are extremely unwilling to be active during the intervention.
i even spoke on the phone with the mother of a subject who is 5’1″ tall and weighs 200 pounds at age 11. the mother started crying when telling me about this subjects’ health history. she emphasized how difficult it is to be the mother of an obese child. but then later in the summer, this subject asked to bring home green tomatoes because the mother wanted to FRY THEM for dinner. this is a clear example of the knowledge of what is healthy being beaten out by a lack of motivation to change.
after bringing up this disconnect between knowledge and motivation in her subject population, dr. edwards talked about herself. she is highly educated on diet, and while she does eat well, she does indulge (and over-indulge) more often then she should. her last point was exercise. she passes FOUR gyms every day, and has not set food in one for months, even though she knows she should (and she is the chair of a KINESIOLOGY department).
this made me think of myself. i am NOT at a healthy weight, and i study the impact of overweight and obesity on health EVERY DAY. i know what foods to eat and in what portion sizes – and i certainly don’t stick to that 100%. and finally, i know how important exercise is for overall health and fitness. and lately, if i exercise 4 times a week, i’m impressed.
so, if she doesn’t even motivate herself to eat better and exercise and i don’t motivate myself to eat well and excercise, how can we motivate individuals with less opportunities to eat well and exercise to do so?
i’m sure the woman that i met in the grocery store knows that ice cream, soda, little debbie snacks, and chocolate syrup aren’t the healthiest options. for $71, she could have a supply of healthy, whole foods for a week! but seemingly, she isn’t motivated to buy fruits, vegetables, lean meats, etc., or at least she wasn’t motivated to do it when i saw her on friday.
so, now i want to ask you what you think about this.
how can we motivate people who face income and access barriers to make changes in their diet and exercise?
what motivates you?
how do you make the leap from KNOWING what is good for you, and APPLYING it?
i know this is a really hard question, and there are a lot of people trying to answer this question. i would just love to hear your thoughts.