1. Healthy Habits for Families on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Healthy Habits for Families on the Charlotte Today Show


  2. Top 10 Tips for Creating Healthy Habits in Kids

    As we begin the new school year, it is worth taking time to remind ourselves about health habits for your kids. Habits are hard to break. That’s why the sooner in life we build good, healthy habits, the easier it is to keep them and stay as healthy as possible for years to come. And when good habits are in place, it’s easier to resist bad ones.

    Below are my top 10 tips for creating healthy habits in your kids.

    1. Reflect on your own habits. Your child’s habits start with you. You are your child’s most important role model. If you have unhealthy habits such as smoking or emotional eating, start this process by identifying what changes you can make in your own life. Perfection is not a realistic goal. Self-awareness and intentional choices, though, help us to become our healthiest versions. Remember, the healthier you are, the healthier your child will be.

    You have a golden opportunity to influence your child’s lifelong eating habits by starting early. If your kids are brought up used to the tastes of freshly prepared foods that are unsalted and unsweetened, they’ll most likely not care for artificial tastes later in life. If your kids are older, though, all hope is not lost! Change takes time, but bodies adapt and will grow to crave fresh foods. The less sugar we have, the less sugar we want!

    1. Stay positive. Be strengths based. It is easy for kids to get discouraged when things don’t go their way. Help them learn resilience when they experience setbacks by showing them the importance of staying positive.

    According to research in the Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, children as well as adults can benefit from positive thinking and good relationships. Help your kids develop healthy self-esteem and a positive mindset by teaching them that they are lovable, capable, and unique, no matter what challenges they encounter.

    When things don’t go well for your children, whether they didn’t finish their homework or they got in trouble at school, emphasize the decisions that they made rather than the quality of their character. In other words, you child can make bad decisions but that doesn’t mean that he/she is a bad person. Separating these two is extremely important for the development of your child’s identity and level self-confidence.

    1. Make eating colorful. Eating foods of different colors isn’t just fun — it has health benefits too. Help your kids understand the nutritional value of including a rainbow of colorful foods in their regular diet. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that every meal needs to have every color, but you should make an effort to incorporate a range of fruits and vegetables of different hues into your child’s diet throughout the week. Let the colors range from red, blue, and orange, to yellow, green, and white.

     Remember, kids love to have fun with food, so be creative in the way it’s presented to them. Kids also love to “dip” food, so give them different dips, like hummus, guacamole and yogurt or a cheese sauce to dip veggies into. If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up! Sometimes it takes a number of times for kids to be willing to try something new.

    Lastly, use creative language for healthy foods, like “grow food” – all kids love to hear about growing and if you convince them that they need “grow food” to grow instead of junk food, you are off to a good start!

    1. Be Active. The best way to get your kids to not be couch potatoes is to pick physical activities that they enjoy and to be active with them. Running or going to the gym isn’t for everyone. Skipping, doing cartwheels, exploring on a nature walk or going through a sprinkler, though, might be easier to ‘sell’ to your kids. And, the more you offer to be active with your kids, the more likely they are to join in. Modeling physical health and exposing your kids to a variety of activities will help them to find their own healthy niches and develop habits that they will carry into adulthood.
    1. Turn off the TV and put away the screens. Kids who watch more than 1-2 hours of television or other electronic devises per day are at greater risk for a number of health problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, these problems include:
    • Impaired performance at school
    • Behavioral difficulties, including emotional and social problems and attention disorders
    • Obesity or being overweight
    • Irregular sleep, including trouble falling asleep and resisting bedtime

    The best way to motivate your child to get off the couch is for you to do the same! Limit your device time when you are with your child and set boundaries around electronic use when together e.g. not at the table, not before bed and not when someone else is talking to you; it sounds obvious, but in can be hard to do!

    1. Read every day. Developing strong reading skills is an essential component of your child’s success in school now, and at work later in life. According to the Cleveland Clinic, reading helps build a child’s self-esteem, relationships with parents and others, and success in later life. It is recommended you make reading a part of your child’s playtime and bedtime routines. The Cleveland Clinic also suggests that daily reading to children can begin as early as 6 months of age. Most importantly, choose books your kids like so that they view reading as a treat rather than a chore.
    1. Drink water, not soda. You can keep the message simple. Water is healthy. Soft drinks are unhealthy. Even if your kids don’t understand all of the reasons why too much sugar is bad for them, you can help them understand the basics.

    For example, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), the sugar in soft drinks provides no nutrients. It also adds calories that can lead to weight problems. Water, on the other hand, is a vital resource that humans can’t live without.

    The best way to ensure water is an essential component of your child’s diet is to start the habit early. With babies, it should be the first thing offered after breast milk or formula. Hold off on juices.

    If your child has already gotten used to sweetened drinks such as juice, then start by ensuring you are giving him/her 100 percent fruit juice with no added sugar or artificial colors. Next, gradually water it down until the juice is mostly water. This will help to wean your child off slowly and without much protest.

    Remember, since your child is drinking mostly water, this means that you have to also! Your child will fight you more on the decision to stop drinking juices or soda if you still have a can of soda at every meal!

    1. Sleep. Sleep is essential for your child to flourish and succeed. Sleep promotes growth, helps heart health, affects weight, reduces injury and helps keep your child healthy. To develop healthy sleep habits for your child focus on:
    • Creating a solid bedtime routine. A research study from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia indicates that it only takes 4 nights of non-routine behaviors to lead to sleep deprivation.
    • Set the stage for bed. Screens, devices and electronics should not be in your child’s bedroom. Research indicates that these devices are detrimental to falling asleep and lead to less restful sleep throughout the night.
    • Conduct sleep audits every now and then. Log how many hours your child sleeps along with how many tantrums, meltdowns, and hours of electronic use your child has. You may be surprised about the correlations you find!
    1. Family Meals. With hectic schedules, it is hard to find time to sit down and enjoy a meal together, but that doesn’t mean that we all shouldn’t try!

    According to the University of Florida, research has shown sharing family meals means that:

    • Family bonds get stronger
    • Kids are more well-adjusted
    • Everyone eats more nutritious meals
    • Kids are less likely to be obese or overweight
    • Kids are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol

    For many of us, family meals nights are not realistic. Instead, aim for 3-4 home-cooked, family meals a week. The other nights you may get take-out or go out to dinner. Finding a balance is important, but make sure that you don’t forget the value of eating as a family.

    1. Share and Give. Talk about helping others from the start. Usually by your child’s second birthday, he/she will be able to understand the concept of sharing toys and giving to others. One habit that I am proud of is that for every present my children receives on their birthdays, they choose one to give away to other kids in need. My vision with this practice is to develop an association between receiving and giving. Sharing toys, clothes and time are healthy habits that children can start learning young!

    As I said at the beginning of this article: your child’s healthy habits start with you. If any or all of these tips seem overwhelming to you, they will feel the same way to your child. Start small and gain momentum. Some change is always better than no change. Start with one change – maybe no sodas or eating a healthy breakfast, get comfortable and consistent with that change, and then move on. If you try to change too much at once, it is likely that you’ll become discouraged and give up during the process. Healthy habits are a lifelong journey that we’re all on. Finding balance and making intentional choices related to health is the goal that each of us tries to achieve on a daily basis. If you keep these 10 tips in mind, you are more likely to be successful in doing so!


  3. Top 3 Tips for How to Quit a Job

    At some point, everyone will likely have to give notice and quit a job. We have all been there, whether you are miserable in your position, have another opportunity waiting for you or are making a change for personal reasons. Leaving a position is not always an easy thing to do. How do you know when it is the right time to leave? How do you go about actually leaving? Is there a right way to quit? A wrong way? Below I have compiled my top 3 tips for quitting your job.

    Tip #1: Ensure that you are quitting for the right reasons and that you are ready to quit financially.

    Are you quitting for the right reason? If you are quitting because you are unhappy in your current position, ask yourself whether you have done everything that you can to change the situation. Have you spoken with your manager? More than once? Have you spoken with someone in Human Resources? Ensuring that you have made every effort possible to ameliorate your current unacceptable work environment will help you find closure from your current position as well as allow you to explain to future employers about why and how you left the position.

    If you are giving your notice for personal reasons, explore whether there is anything for which you can ask that might help. You never know what you can negotiate unless you try. Would a day working from home help? Would shifting your work hours later in the morning help your commute? Be creative in what you ask for. If you are ready to quit your job, you really have nothing to lose and might as well negotiate before you leave. Make sure to craft your request as a positive and value-add proposition by explaining to your boss what opportunities will be gleaned for the business and the department by your working remotely, going to half time, switching your work hours, etc. If your boss is not interested, he/she always has the ability to say no, but if you don’t ask, you will never know what could have been.

    Can you afford to quit? If you do not have another position already secured, consider your savings. Do you have enough money to live on? Consider your fixed costs and variable costs. Is there anything that you can cut from your expenses to save money until you find another job? Make sure to account for health insurance and other benefits for you and your family that you will need to maintain while searching for your next position. 

    Tip #2: Make sure you know what the policies are regarding length of notice, termination of benefits, any contract specifications such as non-competes and exit interviews.

    Length of notice: There is no obligation to stay at a position longer than the notice that a contract specifies, whether it’s 2 weeks or 4 weeks. You may, though, decide to stay longer based on the specific projects you’re working on or the transition plan that you and your manager determine.

    Termination of benefits: Find out about the employee benefits and salary you are entitled to receive upon leaving. Inquire about collecting unused vacation and sick pay, and keeping, cashing in, or rolling over your 401(k) or other pension plans. These details can often be negotiated so consider what you need – health insurance, COBRA, etc. – before you quit.

    Contract specifications: Know what limits you have on future endeavors related to your current business. If you plan to leave the industry and make a career change, this might not matter, but intellectual property and client data will likely be highly protected by the employer so make sure not to violate any agreements that you have made.

    Exit Interviews: Always ask for an exit interview. Exit interviews are a chance for you to provide feedback to an employer in a confidential way. If you are leaving because you are disengaged, an exit interview is a time for you to provide feedback in a cool and calm way. You should always be professional and constructive, though, in your feedback to Human Resources if you want your words to be taken seriously.

    Tip #3: Say and do the right things.

    Write a letter, deliver it in person: Draft a professional letter of resignation ahead of time and really put thought into it. Not only is it a clear outline of your exit strategy to your employer, but it’s also a nice way to make sure you leave on a good note. Don’t forget, letters of resignation often end up in employee files and can be used later on when your former boss is called for a reference. Make sure they have nothing but the best things to say about you.

    What to say to your boss: Don’t say much more than you are leaving. Emphasize the positive and talk about how the company has benefited you, but also mention that it’s time to move on. Offer to help during the transition and afterward.

    Ask for a reference: Before you leave, ask for a letter of recommendation from your manager. As time passes and people move on, it’s easy to lose track of previous employers. With a letter in hand or a LinkedIn recommendation online, you’ll have documentation of your credentials to share with prospective employers.

    Return company property: Return any company property you have – including keys, documents, computers, phones, and anything else that doesn’t belong to you. The company doesn’t want to chase you to get it back, and you don’t want to be held responsible if it’s not returned in a timely manner.

    Always remember, the way that you end your time in an organization is equally as important as the way that you begin your time there. Making sure that you are well-prepared, respectful and positive when giving your notice, helps to ensure that your professional reputation remains intact regardless of your decision to quit.

     


  4. Digital Detox on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Digital Detox on the Charlotte Today Show


  5. Adolescent Girls and Depression

    Can adolescents be depressed? Unfortunately, yes, and the number of depressed teens, especially female, is rising.

    A recent study in the journal of Pediatrics found that between 2005 and 2014, the rates of depression increased significantly amongst teens in the United States: there are now over half a million more depressed adolescents than before. Interestingly, this study also found that many more adolescent girls in the U.S. are experiencing major depressive episodes at this age than boys. In fact, 85% of the adolescent population found to have depression is female. Women of all ages experience higher rates of depression in comparison to men, but the national average is 2:1, not 8:1 as in the adolescent population currently.

    But why?

    Quite simply, the increase in adolescent depression rates, especially that of girls’, is directly related to the increase in adolescents’ dependence on social media. Postings on social media, whether through Facebook, SnapChat or Instagram, represent a manipulated version of someone’s life. The content that individuals share does not reflect their vulnerabilities, fears or ‘bad days.’ Often, viewers’ feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness are compounded and exacerbated after viewing others’ filtered posts.

    Teens are incredibly vulnerable to defining themselves in comparison to others, and social media messages are a minefield for just this. Almost all social media messages focus the viewer on looks, not gifts, intelligences or passions. When adolescents use social media as a means of communicating, they are more apt to base their identities on their social media accounts, and their emotions become more volatile based on how many likes, tags or friends they have. Adolescent girls are particularly susceptible to this and frequently feel that their “entire identify” relates to their phones. This, unfortunately, leads to increased instances of negative self-comparisons and increased frequency of cyber-bullying.

    What are some signs of depression?

    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Changes in appetite or energy
    • Growing inability to pay attention or concentrate
    • Increased irritability
    • Increased feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness

    Knowing all of this, what can adolescents, parents, schools and others do to help?

    To start, we need to bring more awareness to the issue. Parents need to work to create structure around technology and put into place best practices related to its use. For example, practice not checking your phone all evening while with other family members. Try setting a rule that does not permit phones in bedrooms at night and also ensure that there are no phones being used at the table when a family meal is occurring.

    Next, we need to start a cultural discussion about the impact social media has on our feelings towards ourselves. We need to bring awareness to the feeling of being compared to others and the urge to check our phone. What would it be like to have an open discussion about how FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and checking Instrgram are so closely related? What would it be like for both mom and daughter to realize that they share similar feelings and process that together?

    Lastly, many schools are now offering courses in mindfulness. These courses are meant to facilitate students’ learning ‘pay attention’ to their needs and reactions by focusing on one’s internal feelings, thoughts and physical sensations. Mindfulness can offer measurable health benefits and decrease rates of depression. If adolescents (and adults!) can become more aware of their urge to check their phones, then they can have the space to make the decision to not engage in social media at a given time. The more conscious the process becomes, the less direct the link is between social media and one’s emotions. As a result, it is strongly believed that rates of adolescent depression might decrease to be more in line with national averages.

    As technological advances are made, we as a culture need to develop our own ways of interacting with that technology. As a culture, and for women specifically, we need to begin to address social media use and the role it plays in our lives, especially pertaining to how many increased comparisons and media messages are occurring in our daily lives. To learn more about this topic, watch Rebecca’s segment on the Charlotte Today Show here.

     


  6. Adolescent Girls and Depression on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Adolescent Girls and Depression on the Charlotte Today Show


  7. Millenials in the Workplace on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Millenials in the Workplace on the Charlotte Today Show


  8. Getting into your Wise Mind for 2017

    The New Year is an emotional time for everyone. Anticipation and happiness as well as anxiety and sadness are often overwhelming for people of all ages. Whether you set New Year’s resolutions or not, there are always high expectations and hopes of what is to come with the state of the new calendar year. This year, try borrowing a concept from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and focusing on your Wise Mind.

    One of DBT’s basic premises is that there are 3 states of mind…. Reasonable Mind, Emotional Mind and Wise Mind.

    Reasonable Mind: A person uses their Reasonable Mind when they approach a situation intellectually. They plan and make decisions based off of facts.

    Emotional Mind: The Emotional Mind is used when feelings control a person’s thoughts and behavior. They might act impulsively with little regards to consequence.

    Wise Mind: The Wise Mind refers to a balance between the reasonable and emotional halves. A person in Wise Mind is able to recognize and respect their feelings, while responding to them in a rational manner.

    If you were looking at a Venn diagram, Wise Mind would be the overlap of Reasonable Mind and Emotional Mind. Most people gravitate either towards Reasonable Mind or Emotional Mind as their status quo. As such, a person’s first step to acting from the Wise Mind is to identify and become aware of which half is more present for him/her. In DBT, this awareness is called Mindfulness.

    Mindfulness is the present-moment-focus and quality of awareness that a person brings to everyday living; learning to control your mind, rather than letting your mind control you. Mindfulness as a practice directs your attention to only one thing, and that one thing is the moment you are living in. Once you are clear on which half you tend towards, you can start to make choices to bring your actions closer to the middle path and made decisions with your Wise Mind.

    So, as you start 2017, become aware of your thoughts and emotions related to the New Year. Try to identify which expectations and hopes come from a Wise Mind place as opposed to an Emotional Mind or Reasonable Mind. And, start a Mindfulness practice in order to become more present in the moment and be able to choose different behaviors for 2017 than you did for 2016.


  9. Motherhood Part II: Self-Care

    I want to follow-up on my previous post with a discussion of self-care. So often we are our own worst critics. Our minds call us things that we would never say to someone else, friend or foe. Self-care is based on the concept of self-compassion. Learning to show yourself the empathy and generosity that you so often provide to others is essential for your own health. How can we hope that others love us if we cannot love ourselves? How can we hope that others treat us well if we cannot treat ourselves well? My hope is that each of can learn to practice self-compassion via self care and teach our children how important it is to value themselves.

    Regardless of whether you work inside and/or outside of the home, making time for yourself and for self-care is so, so important. I cannot stress it enough: You are the model for your family. If you are not well – mentally, physically and emotionally- then you cannot help your family to be that way either. Below are my top 5 tips for things that you can do to make sure that you practice regular self-care:

    1. Schedule Time for You. Whether you hire a sitter, leave your kids with your partner, or bring the kids to the local YMCA child watch, make sure that you get at least an hour or two of time to yourself each week. While an hour does not seem like a lot, it sometimes feels like you have to move mountains to get even a minute alone. Do not give up though! Having time to sleep, read, exercise, call a friend, meditate, go in the sauna, get a pedicure, shop, etc. is so essential to your feeling like a person, an individual meeting her own needs, rather than only a mother meeting other peoples’ needs.
    2. Ask for Help and Delegate. You cannot do it all. You do not want to do it all. Whether you ask your partner, neighbor or friend for help or whether you outsource tasks like cleaning, laundry, etc, get help! Delegate tasks and off-load items from your to-do list. For those moms that work inside the home, you need help too! Most adults work 9 am – 5 pm. If you work in the home, your day is more like 4 am – 10 pm. Those are long hours! Do not diminish how exhausting being a stay-at-home parent is and make sure to ask for help.
    3. Say No. You need to say no. You cannot and should not try to do it all. I would suggest starting by identifying what your values are and what endeavors you want to pursue. Try thinking of values for the categories: family, professional, spiritual, education, and leisure. The next step is identifying goals that pursue your values. Goals are things you can accomplish, whereas values are a direction you move in but never arrive at. In order to take these steps, you must say no to engagements, obligations and activities that are not in pursuit of your values. Saying no is not selfish or rude. Saying no helps you to become the best version of yourself.
    4. Prioritize and prepare. Start by making a list of what you want to accomplish in the short term, long term, at home and at work. Then, prioritize. You will be hard pressed to find an adult who does not have an ever-growing to-do list. Start by accepting that you can only do so much. Identify what is necessary, ideal and superfluous. Then, problem solve on how to move forward. We have all been told that preparation is the key to success. Prioritizing is part of preparation but so too is delegation and ensuring that you have all the necessary components of the project before you under take it.
    5. Avoid distractions and be present. Email pop-ups, text messages, Facebook alerts, Snap Chats, etc, are all distractions. Whether you are playing a game with your kids, making a power point presentation or emailing a friend, be present in each moment. Pay attention to what you are doing so that you can be fully engaged. Avoiding distractions and being present helps you to accomplish tasks effectively and efficiently as well as connect with those you are with. All of us could use some no-phone time daily; try scheduling this and making it a daily habit.

    I used to think that being a mother is the hardest job that anyone can have. My views recently have shifted. I think that being a mother who understands the importance of self-care is harder. Knowing that you need to self-care in order to be a better mother means that you have to make time for your needs in the midst of a life filled with work for others. Self-care will make you a better parent, person and professional. Unfortunately, though, self-care is often at the bottom of a mother’s priority list, even though it should really be at the top.


  10. Managing Stress Over the Holidays on the Charlotte Today Show

    Watch Rebecca speak about Managing Stress Over the Holidays on the Charlotte Today Show


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