Nutritional Makeover: Size and Font Edition

New years bring new ideas, new looks, new focuses.  Along with various policy changes, health care shifts and other such political agendas, the FDA has decided to add some flare to nutritional labels.  This makeover was proposed after recent scientific research conclusions linked chronic diseases with diet.

Coming from a purely cosmetic and superficial stand point, the proposed changes make sense.  Not only do they make sense, but they infer an interesting biopsychosocial conceptualization.  Below is a side by side of the changes:



Quick observations direct the eye toward the calorie count and serving size at the top.  This definite alteration in order, placement, and size is smart.  Though the eye catches the actual caloric count first, it then looks to the approximate servings per container.  This maneuver is an attempt to slim down on over eating, etc.  In my opinion, it is easier to assimilate servings per package with a mental image of the proper amount of consumption, when presented in this way.  This allows one to consider the potential monetary value of consuming one portion at a time, rather than crash through an entire family sized bag of chips at once.  (Let’s be honest, it happens to the best of us.)  Currently, the actual portion size is the first thing listed on the label, but who carries around measuring tools in their pockets every time they go for the pretzels?  This simple adjustment invites a rather precise and direct idea for consumers.

The vast increase in font size for the caloric count may be an attempt to draw attention to the importance of the number alone.  Over indulging can quickly add up and cause a slue of health risks.  This risky behavior can threaten both pant size and life span.  Of course, other various health behaviors can impact the results in different ways for every individual.  Regardless, the message at hand is that this issue between American borders has caught the attention of just about everyone.  Things need to change.

Along with the cosmetic changes comes new information.  This proposal has added a new line in the ‘sugar’ section.  ‘Added sugars’ will now be brought into the spotlight, to aide in the confusion between natural and artificial.  This break down can help the monitoring of harsh modifications.  Perhaps this will help curb the added sugars all together.  Should this proposal take off, savvy shoppers may take notice and return the heavily modified product to the shelf.  One small step such as this can equal a giant leap in educational gains.

In the daily value (DV %) section, there have been more than a couple changes.  Vitamin A and C will no longer be legally required on labels, though vitamin D and Potassium WILL be a requirement.  Potassium has been found to help fight against chronic disease and has moved up the totem pole, so to speak.  Vitamin D aides with bone health and has gained prominence as well.

In addition to the swaps in vitamins and minerals, the actual DV requirements are under reconsideration.  The actual amounts are being looked at and investigated, to remain relevant.  Further studies will explore those changes and impacts to the final product.

Once again, the numbers gain prominence as the actual DV % is being placed in a column in front of the subject itself.  This may get more attention and grant further inspection of the product in return.  Furthermore, the actual weighted breakdown follows the subject.

Keep in mind that this is merely a proposal and could be completely different when all is said an done.  Whatever ends up happening, it’s something new that will gather attention and potential education opportunities.  Though the label will be new and improved, people need to be able to read it in order to use the information.  Health literacy continues to be a rampant issue among many demographics in the United States and does have an impact on the utilization of tools such as these labels. I’m remaining hopeful that major changes such as this spark a need for educational literature and communication.

For further information and updates, follow this link to the FDA press announcement:



Is there more depth to this superficial craze, than meets the eye?

As this fad has grown and grown over recent years, my opinion on the matter has been torn.  Are selfies superficial, empowering, or both?  Honestly, I can’t say that I have a valid answer, as it’s a rather subjective phenomenon.  It’s become so wide spread, that the term has been officially added to the dictionary.  Because I haven’t read the technical definition yet, I’m going to look it up and toss it on in here.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, a selfie is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”  Interesting.  Alright – moving forward.

I chose today to explore this subject, as Dove has released a new campaign titled, you guessed it – “Selfie.”  This short explores the idea of beauty and how it is conveyed in the eyes of mother/daughter duos.  The young women are relatively high school aged and their mothers vary.  Take a look:

After viewing this latest short, I continue to be torn.  I have been a fan of Dove’s previous campaigns and do still appreciate this one.  However, I feel that there are things missing.  Understandably, this is a short and not a media research analysis.  With that in mind, I looked to the people.  I listened for their words, for their stories, for their reasons.

For example, around minute mark 6:40, one mother states: “I think that my daughters have taught me that social media is widening the definition of what beauty is.”

Ok.  So.  Here is my paradox.  If social media is widening the definition of what beauty is, who is right?  Would this be a good thing, or a bad thing?  One common thread in the short is the idea of women basing their appearance off of celebrities in movies, TV, mags, etc.  So, why is that so different from social media?  Thread sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and others regurgitate the idolizing of celebs and airbrushed models.  As it were, the young women in this short admit that they frame themselves just so, when taking a shot.  If they are perpetuating these standards in their own pictures, doesn’t that just beat around the bush?

Understandably, the point of this campaign was to throw water on the situation and wake everyone up.  Did it work?  Will it continue to work?  The message is there and the purpose is positive, but I’m not convinced.  This particular community shared a wonderful event and I wish them well in continuing this renewed mindset.  As for the rest of us, what’s next?

There are many other points that I wish to touch on in this post, but I want to think a little bit more.  I’ve been reminded of other mediated messages from the past and may just have a little series up my sleeve.  Stay tuned, if you so wish.

In the meantime, what do you think?

New Year, New Me : Cliché or Not

2013 was an interesting year and I’m sure 2014 will have it’s own bunch of surprises.  It’s true, I’m not exactly where I thought I would be right now.  I just decided to put my graduate degree on hold, as the program I was in did not meet my expectations.  Although it was a hard decision to make, I know that it was the correct one for me.  I can’t be a part of a program that hinders my perspective and passion.  What’s the point in that?  Where’s the support?  So, back to the drawing board I go.

Of course, I do have a degree and do plan to pursue a more direct career here asap.  In the meantime, I’m not going to put myself on the back burner.  After working my butt off, juggling classes and a job for the past few years, I am drained.  Sure, I wake up for work before the sun everyday and don’t skip a beat, but my true being is exhausted.  I’ve been so focused on my education and work for so long, that I have been ignoring my own needs.  I am composed of more than one compartment; my spirit is hungry – my soul is thirsty.

I want that to change.  I need that to change.

I want to read for fun.  I want to pursue random interests and have new hobbies.  I want to create.  I want to explore.  I want to express again.  I want to be selfish, to better myself.  Really though, is it selfish to want to be a better, happier, healthier person?  NOPE.

Because of all of this, rather than make a New Year’s resolution, I have made a 2014 bucket list of sorts.  I composed a list of things that are realistic and attainable for me.  By utilizing this list, I hope to reach my goals and take myself to a better place spiritually and physically.  Art, music, writing, health, cookbook – so many things to work on and improve.

I honestly don’t have a whole lot of things to complain about in my life right now.  Sure, some situations could be more ideal, but I’m here.  I have a job.  I found a love for the history books, so what could possibly stand in my way?  I am the only one that can get in the way of being a better me.

Why would I ever want to stop improving?

So, here’s to a new year and a refreshed soul.  My ambition is vamped and ready to go.

A Small Glimpse into My Passion

I haven’t written anything in a few weeks, thanks to my horrible insane schedule with school and work, work, work, but here we go.  The following is a brief response assignment given by my Health Communication professor and mentor.  Throughout the semester, we have been journaling daily about our experiences with listening, reflexivity, and other concepts.  From here, we write bi-weekly responses about our experiences.  Below is my second response articulating my thoughts on “listening”:

Throughout the second phase of the listening reflections, I tried to focus my utilization of active listening along with concepts discussed in class.  Although I have been attempting to do this for the duration of the process, I made it a point to go back to the texts and reapply these skills and concepts more proactively.  In doing this, I was able to gain a better sense of the power and depth that these intersections have.

Because I am facing giant cross-roads in my personal life, with the transition of graduation and adult life looming around the corner, I have been speaking with many people about my journey.  Not only have I been receiving excellent advice for this time of my life, I have also been told personal stories and experiences from these people.  Whether they were friends, family, professors, or colleagues, every individual has told something worth sharing.  Therefore, it has been my mission to soak up as much as I possibly could.

Looking back at what I have written about these experiences, I am pleased to see that I have made quite a few succinct connections, which have strengthened my previous understandings.  For example, the ideals and depth surrounding identity has been further engrained in my mind and way of thinking.  I have been conscious of identities and how they come into play between individuals, but they are also prevalent through listening.  I began to notice a bit of a trend surrounding the ways in which I listen to people; their identity and it’s correlation to my own, may impact the way in which I listen to them.  It’s not necessarily a popularity contest or anything of the sort, but the more I respect an individual, the more actively I engage.  Of course, there have been exceptions along the way, but overall, this pattern occurs consistently.

As I gained knowledge from the stories of others, I found myself engaging in what seemed to be mini-interviews at times.  The further into the story they went, the more questions and reflexive introspection I was having.  Therefore, the story would transform into a dialogue, with reflexivity exhibited on both ends.  This point in my life is terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, so it’s been an adventure hearing about the journey of others, as they enjoy learning about mine.

In addition to identity, I have gained more awareness to perception and how that shapes the overall health narrative of an individual.  In my own experience, I have encountered a handful of health related visits over the past couple of months, which is more than I have had in quite some time.  Other than dental cleanings and annual womanhood check ups, I only see a doctor under extreme circumstances.  Therefore, it’s been really fun getting to experience these recent interactions with all of these concepts revolving around my mind.

It all began with my Mom.  She has a similar mindset as myself when it comes to doctor visits; we are both able to tough it out most of the time, and don’t bother unless something is legitimately wrong.  So, in my conversations with her about my concerns of discomfort, I paid close attention to her reception and willingness to listen to my feelings.  Of course, she’s my Mom, so she showed immediate concern when I brought up the issue.  From this point, she asked me an array of questions about the feelings I was experiences, and made me think of things that I hadn’t even thought of myself.  Being two hours away from her and from my doctors, the process of getting an appointment had to be executed very concisely and my Mom handled that better than anyone else could.  Through a string of short updates, she would relay appointment dates and times to me, after closely considering the best professional for me to see in the first place.  Time was a huge factor, between my busy schedule and my ability to drive back home, but Spring break came at a perfect time.  I have written about some of my experiences in the doctor’s office previously, but I never even thought to think about the communication that took place in order to get me there.  The saga isn’t quite over yet, but the solution is sight and the entire journey was executed very well.  A+ Mom!

My own health narrative has expanded quite a bit in the past few weeks, but I was thankful to have my Mom in the room with me a couple of times while I was being questioned about my family history.  That narrative is one that I am not all too familiar with.  I am well aware of the family health issues surrounding people in my lifetime, but before my existence, I am not 100% sure of everyone’s story.  I see how intricately woven all of this information is and how it can impact my own situation.  So while I sat there staring at the ceiling looking for answers, my Mom was able to fill in the blanks, therefore informing the professional and myself simultaneously.

Communication, dialogue, narratives, listening, and identity are just a handful of critical factors in the equation of effective progress.  Without harnessing these skills and applying them on a regular basis, I don’t understand how people can cohesively survive.  The concepts discussed in class are more than just concepts.  They are crucial skills that must be understood and executed as efficiently as possible.  I guess that’s just going to be motivation for my future career goals.  No wonder I love Health Comm so much.


This Makes So Much Sense

Between the piles of homework and household chores I’ve surrounded myself in today, I came across an article on Huffpost:

I was compelled to read this article, as it is from the perspective of a spiritual leader.  Deepak Chopra brings a lot of valid and captivating  points to the forefront of health, though I believe that this information can reach people of any age.  The primary basis of this article revolves around the anti-aging process and looking younger.  Being 22 years old, I’m not really concerned with regenerating my youth.  HOWEVER, I feel that the information he shares is important to being healthy in general.

I am currently working internally to better equip myself with reflexivity, while finding ways to deter stress and other negative things from my daily routine.  I may be 22, but I want my body to feel the same way.  College, jobs, graduation, life – everything combines into a little ball of fury if you let it get away from you.  These days, I’ve started to get myself in a better routine of activity and experimenting with food, etc.  I feel pretty darn good.  I’m not going to lie.  I know there is still room for improvement, while I get myself into the shape that I want.

That being said, I take the information from this article/video and apply it to what I’ve always known.  Most of this information seems like common knowledge to me, but it has been great having it presented back once again:

“’More than perception, but… yes,” he says. “There are 10 really very specific things that you can do to change your biological age. Your biological age means your blood pressure, your bone density, skin thickness, number of wrinkles, hearing, immune function…’”

My biological age is 22 and I want to continue to use my perceptions and reflection to keep myself in proper check with my internal and external environments.  The human mind is an amazing thing; it can control much more than we are aware.

For me, a happy soul and a happy heart can move mountains.  This combination is highly effective and potent.  It can keep anyone young and strong, no matter what age they are.  Age is only a matter of time.  It can only be measured through wisdom, not wrinkles.



Papers, Projects, Stress, and Little Revelations

The semester is finally coming to an end; I royally dislike semesters.  Because I began college on quarters, I greatly miss the speed and efficiency of the quarter system.  Due to the recent transition – naturally occurring during my senior year – no one has a clue what’s going on, or how to structure classes.  Therefore, I am certainly not sad to see this semester coming to it’s final resting place.  It can stay there.  Excuse the rant.

That being said, I am in the midst of finishing multiple projects and prepping for presentations on projects that are already finished.  Although I usually enjoy projects and making a culminating pieces in reflection of my classes, one in particular has me trapped.  Currently, I am in an upper level Communications course, taught by a favorite prof, entitled Race, Health, and Gender.  At this point in my college career, I can’t even recall all of the classes I have taken with her, that all share the same relative theme…surprise surprise.  I wouldn’t be writing this blog if the correlations between health and gender meant nothing to me.

Anyhoo, we have been working on a project that is based around a concept map of our own construction, as well as a working outline that incorporates multiple themes, ideas, theories, etc. that we have worked with this semester.  Normally, I love these types of creative projects, that have so much room for individuality and spirit…….but I keep getting stuck.  I’m certainly not lacking ideas or materials.  I’m finding it difficult to pick the most important implications of my piece.  My project speaks to the personal experiences and interpretations of things I’ve faced, growing up as a feminist.  My trouble lands in an internal battle that is difficult to sort through.  After a few re-writes and reconstructions, I can’t decide whether to focus more on my young life, before I truly had a language to back up my beliefs, or whether to focus more on my more adult life, when I learned the phrases and theories behind the thoughts I’ve always had.

So, I sit here now (not in my favorite coffee shop, because it is under new management and is super lame now, but across the street instead) attempting to rework my outline for the final time.  Naturally, my mind starts to expand and hone in on aspects of my project, that in turn, lead me to further project ideas.  Now, I am focusing on the power of language.  This theme is always present in most of my work, and it reigns true this time as well.  Language to me, is community.  I may have always been a radical little feminist from the moment I was born, but I didn’t understand the power behind the way I was, because I had never heard the term “feminism.”  Since that time, I have become scholarly and learned about the theory, power, and people behind the ways ingrained in my being.  Here-in lies the community that is surrounding my own personal identity.

This idea is present in so many arenas.  Being a communication major and an English minor, words and language mean everything to me.  Every word in every language and dialect across the world and throughout time, has meaning.  How we use these words can make or break ourselves and those around us.  They can create communities, tear families apart, buy you a cup of coffee, or bring peace.

Ever since the discovery of feminist language, I have been nothing but further empowered to continue to be myself.  Language is everything, and how we use this critical tool can impact generations to come.

Health Equation

A few posts back, I had a brief little poll that inquired upon people’s thoughts on the meaning of health.  After receiving a handful of answers, all but one agreed that health was an all encompassing term that deals with both internal and external factors.  These physical, mental, and emotional factors all work together to create one cohesive state of health, though every individual has a differing equation.

In order to better understand what all creates our image of health, so many variables have to be examined. My own equation is very extensive, but I’ll do my best to examine as much of it as I can in time.  For now, I’ll just focus on five main points:

1. Physical State of Being

As I grow older, I’m really starting to notice slight differences in how my body reacts to and handles various things: I can no longer go nights without sleep and live to tell the tale; Coffee has become a staple, and not just a favored drink; Stress physically effects me; Working out feels awesome; Late night snacking turning into a cruel joke when I put pants on later, etc…

Although I may be average in size and stature, with some muscle, I am totally out of shape and I can’t stand it.  My days of having a super metabolism and twig-like figure are totally over.  Aside from all of that, I’m really starting to feel how crucial proper nutrition truly is.

2. Mental State

Like mentioned above, stress is starting to affect me for the first time.  I’ve always been busy and a great multi-tasker…but college is new ballgame.  Although I can still manage everything very well, I sincerely have to find ways to maintain the stress and not let myself get overwhelmed, even in my fourth year.  (My drumset being 2 hrs away doesn’t help much).

Though I may be struggling with stress here and there, I try to remain calm and keep my normal down-to-Earth vibe about me.  So many factors work their way into the equation of my mental state.  For now, I’ll just cap it there.

3. Gender

Where do I even begin?! This could and probably will be a post of its own here soon enough.  For the time being, I’ll just keep this one brief.

Gender seems to be everything in this day and age, politically, personally, and in other ways.  This election season (for example) seems to be a constant battle of health and gender, focusing on how and why these two terms go hand in hand.  One moment, we progress forward.  The next, we make a screeching halt and go flying back to the 40’s.  Womanhood is constantly on the line, and somehow religion, economics, and two-party systems find their way into the mix.  Why does the stuff between my legs determine my rights as a human in every aspect, especially something as sensitive as health care?!

4. Media

With all of the technology readily available today, messages are smashed in our face every single moment of the day.  The number of mediated messages that register in your brain each day would probably astound you if you sat down and thought about it.

The media has a huge hand in what is deemed as healthy, proper, right, wrong, and so much more.  This could be anything from skinny mini models in magazines, to the font used in advertisements.  Therefore, one is swayed in different directions without even realizing what’s going on.

5. Family

In the most basic of ways, family and upbringing has a lot to do with what I deem as health.  I was raised with a very health conscious, fit, happy go lucky family.  Because of this, I listen to Enya while I relax and write papers, I love hiking for fun, brain power is wealth, being personally fit is important (that doesn’t mean I have to be a stick), happiness is a virtue, food is vital, awareness is key, and so much more.

Health can mean any number of things to someone and I’m sure those closest to me have a different set of variables in their own equation, than I.  There is no right answer for what health is and isn’t.   

Gender Awakening

First of all, thank you to those that contributed to my poll in the previous post.  (Please continue to do so if you haven’t had the opportunity yet.) Now, on to the fun stuff.

Looking back over the course of my life, I have grown to notice certain stages, stepping stones, milestones, and factors that have contributed to who I am today.  I’m in the point in my life where I am on the cusp of full-on, frighteningly-exciting adulthood.  Because of this, I have a firm grasp on who I believe myself to be, as well as what/who it took to get me here.  The one and only conclusion that I keep bringing myself to, is the fact that there isn’t one simple conclusion.  If I were to write down a list of these factors, the list would reach all the way to Tatooine; for now, I’ll focus on a few of the bullets on my list.

When I attempt to sum up who I am in just a handful of labeled terms, the list is as follows: Female, Woman, Daughter, Loyal, Musician, Inquisitive, Passionate, Driven, Stubborn, Etc.

The first few terms on my list deal with my gender; in my own eyes, I find power, prestige and worth in the fact that I am a female, and therefore always find myself placing those terms first.  Because of this, I constantly question the first thing that pops up in my mind when I consider my gender.  You should try it for yourself, right now.  Consider your gender identity, and then realize the first image that pops up in your mind.  Ready, set, GO!

The image that first pops up in my mind is that of my parents; my Mom and Dad standing side by side, both equally represented.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household with both my Mom and Dad, who are now happily married for 30 years.  Although I was always a Daddy’s girl growing up, my Mom has been a wonderful role model for me my entire life.  She is a very proud and loving woman, who has lived a life dedicated to teaching, and has changed the lives of many people.  She is a fantastic mentor and finds every opportunity to teach, whether it be about diversity when I’m watching cartoons, or carving a path for a scared, young teacher at her school.  Why wouldn’t I want to mirror that image in my own life?

I would, and I have.  Not only have I had a strong mother in my life, I have had other strong women throughout my family…from my grandmothers, to aunts, to cousins, to my big sister.  Better yet, I have had compassionate men in my life.  My Dad is the strong, silent type, who will always be there to catch me when I fall.  He has been supportive of everything my Mom has ever done, and has continuously pushed me to new limits, knowing my full potential.  Although he sometimes jokes with me and calls me the son he never had, I know he is proud to have me as a daughter and was never judgmental of my non-Barbie ways.  He has taught me so much, from how to play the drums, how to play basketball and how to cook, to how to be a strong woman, how to never back down, how to be proud of who I am.  He was blessed with strong family of women, being the only son, and has kept that mentality throughout his life to date.  Other male figures in my family have been he exact same.  So much of what I have become stems from things that my late Grandpa taught me, without even knowing it.

Knowing that I have been fortunate enough to have a family experience like this, I look to others to see how they became who they are.  I certainly can’t deny that simple mediated images of girls and girly stuff helped me understand the difference in cultural views of boys and girls, though my family taught me to be me.  It is impossible to stray from the imagery and messages the media show on a daily basis.  Since the moment of birth, most people are tossed into either a pink or blue blanket.  From there, it’s a never-ending battle of Barbie vs. G.I. Joe and so on.

Unfortunately for most, these mediated messages are what dictates how they express their gender.  For boys, the masculine messages tend to be that of violence and force; this image only seems to be getting more and more out of hand.  For a simple example, consider how much bigger secret agent 007’s gun has become over the years; consider the suave and sophisticated Humphrey Bogart to the maniacal look of Rambo.  As far as girls are concerned, we have anything pink, glittery and foo-foo.  To be a sex symbol is to be adored and not much else.  That may seem a bit extreme, but when

Norman Rockwell

six-year-old girls are having body image issues, there’s a major problem.  What ever happened to the likes of independent Eliza Thornberry of the great 90’s cartoon?

In my future posts to come, I plan to delve deeper into these issues and many more.  In the meantime, let these thoughts percolate a bit and raise questions of your own.  One of my favorite paintings that depicts all of this, Girl at Mirror, was painted by the late, great Norman Rockwell.