Cure with Compassion: Relief for Every Day Perfectionists

Perfectionism is a common form of suffering today, and manifests in several ways. According to researchers of perfection, these manifestations include holding very high standards for

Young man cuts English lawn with a nail scissors

ourselves, and judging ourselves harshly for perceived failure. They also include holding very high standards for others and judging their failure, or believing that others are judging us for standards we are not living up to. Although some people experience perfectionism differently than others, and in different contexts, the end result of each of these judgements is shame. Shame gives rise to depression, stress, anxiety, and strained relationships.

The antidote to perfectionism entails practicing compassion. We practice compassion when we hold high standards for ourselves and use these high standards as aspirations to reach for, rather than a mark of personal worth. Rather than shaming ourselves when we fail, we accept our best efforts, and try again the next day. We do the same for others when we allow them to have their own standards, and trust that they are trying their best. We also practice compassion when we do not allow ourselves to take on the judgement of others, but rather allow others their own opinions. Judging others harshly hurts everyone involved, and is incredibly difficult to do accurately.

All of this takes practice. Working through perfectionism is not easy, but is possible. It requires self-awareness and honesty. We can ask, “Do I set unrealistic expectations for myself?” If the answer is yes, perhaps trying to set more realistic goals may help. Allow yourself to be a human being with real limitations and weaknesses. Also remember that setbacks are normal. Life consists of lesson after lesson. Learning from our mistakes creates peace, and helps us feel ready to do things differently next time. For those struggling with other people not meeting their personal expectations, try asking yourself, “Are these expectations realistic for this person?” or “Is it my place to have this expectation?” Setting standards for others often leads to frustration for everyone involved. We can only change ourselves, and holding goals and standards for others only leads to resentment when they can’t or won’t measure up.

For those who feel they can never live up to the expectations of family, friends, or even strangers, learning to let go helps. Exercising compassion for who you are while doing your best will bring you peace. Using self-talk that reminds you that you are okay and cannot lose value based on what anyone thinks, may offer some relief. It can be hard to let go of what others think. The truth is, we are all on our own journey, and need to make decisions for ourselves. When personal choices do not win approval, finding common ground and accepting how personal decisions may affect others is helpful.

Try to find a way to feel compassion for the very real, very human people in your life. Everyone, the perfectionist included, is fully worthy of love, acceptance, and happiness. Try to understand, the stress perfectionism causes takes a toll on the perfectionist as well. Practicing self-reflection about the fundamental worth of ourselves and others can bring joy through learning with those we love, becoming better versions of ourselves together. This growth tends to unfold when we accept our weaknesses and take responsibility for how we affect others, even when it is difficult. Health is found in balance, in the ebb and flow of life, not in still waters.

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Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Play Therapy: What is it, and How Will it Help My Child?

 

When adults come to therapy, they can adequately express themselves

using their words and having discussions with their therapist; however, when children come to therapy this may not be the case. Many children do not have the words to express what there are experiencing at home, at school, with friends, etc. Further, children may not be aware of what they are feeling because they do not yet understand what different emotions feel like. Therefore, they would need an outlet which allows them to talk without using words, and without being restricted by a lack of cognitive development. Play therapy helps eliminate these barriers that children face when they come to therapy.

Play therapy allows children to express themselves with the use of toys and actions. It occurs in a safe and caring environment where the child is allowed to play freely with minimal limitations (e.g. safety precautions). Sometimes a therapist may prompt the child’s play during a session; however, most therapists allow children to play with the toys they want, how they want. Play therapy should not make a child feel that they are in therapy or that they are being analyzed. Sessions can last anywhere from 30-50 minutes, depending on the child. A play therapy session can include just the child, the child and their parents, or the entire family, depending on the situation that brings the child in for therapy.

One question to consider when seeking a play therapist for your child is, “Does my child feel comfortable with the therapist?” Because the child will need to express himself/herself through play, it is important for your child to feel safe and comfortable with the therapist. If your child does not feel safe, then play therapy will not be effective.

For parents, this random play may appear to be pointless, because it is “something that children can do at home.” But, when play is done in a therapeutic setting, it will allow the child to process through their experiences and then begin to heal. One explanation for this is that children unconsciously (or consciously) act out whatever they are experiencing in their life, and when a therapist is present, they can reflect back to the child things that they notice (e.g. it seems like the doll doesn’t have any friends to play with, that’s lonely). This reflection helps give the child words to express their experiences, as well as helping the child feel understood and validated.

Play therapy allows adults access to a child’s world. Using toys and actions the therapist can communicate with the child wherever the child is at in their cognitive development. Further, it allows the therapist to help facilitate the healing process by understanding the child and responding back in the way the child needs. Children need to feel validated and heard as much as adults do; play therapy is one way to do this. Children deserve to have a life where they are not burdened by life’s problems, and play therapy is one way to help unburden your child.

Written by – Lexi Lee, MS, LAMFT

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Strength in Weakness: Connecting as a Couple When Life is Hard

 

Hispanic Couple Viewing Potential New Home

A couple I once worked with in therapy some time ago—let’s call them Kevin and Gloria—seemed to have a lot going for them: Kevin had a good job and Gloria was active in her community, and they were raising four healthy kids. They reported, however, that as family pressures had built up they had felt a growing distance from each other, and each time they tried to talk about their individual or family challenges, criticism and defensiveness soon followed, and one or both of them would get hurt or angry while nothing was resolved.

Through therapy, they learned how to create a safe space for each other to open up and go a bit deeper. A big breakthrough came when Kevin started sharing about intense criticism he had felt as a child. He talked about his fear of his own children going through the same thing. This helped explain why he felt so strongly about a particular issue. Gloria then shared her own experiences as a mother, comparing herself to other mothers, and her fear of failing to live up to expectations. This helped Kevin better understand the challenges Gloria faced every day.

Although they still disagreed on many issues (and probably always will), they deeply understood each other. They felt a desire to support each other, and suddenly some of the issues didn’t seem so big anymore. Each expressed a feeling of relief, like a weight being lifted off of their shoulders, and more confidence in their relationship.

One of the main goals of relationship therapy is to help couples (1) open up and (2) learn to be ok about the messy details of their own and each other’s lives. Trying to be perfect, individually or as a couple, can add a lot of pressure, which can turn a couple against each other and create a cycle of fighting and withdrawing that hurts the relationship. If, in the middle of all of this mess, both partners can learn to really listen to each other and just be there for each other, things will get much better. To do this, we need to listen, and open up.

Listen

Have you ever tried to talk to someone about something you are struggling with, only to have them ignore what you said and start rattling off all of the pressures they are facing? How useful was that? But how often does this happen to partners under stress! It can be hard to listen to your partner’s troubles when your mind is so full of your own, but when two people are both trying to be heard, it means neither of them are listening.

Listen to your partner. Set aside, for a moment, your own issues and give them as much space as they need. You will disagree with some of what they say, I can almost guarantee it, but this isn’t the time for resolution or debate, this is the time to show your partner you care and that you want to understand them. After all, the best research we have says that 70% of all relationship differences are never resolved anyway, so let’s stop beating our heads against the wall, and start listening with the intent to understand. The goal is just to listen, not to resolve.

Opening Up

Opening up is more than just sharing our complaints and opinions. Sometimes we will need to do a bit of self-exploration first. Maybe when your partner arrived home late without texting and you were angry, underneath that was the memory of your own father arriving home late or not at all, and the hurt you felt associated with that. The anger will push your partner away, but the painful memory may help him or her connect with you and want to support you.

There may be many other secrets or hidden thoughts, feelings or memories you hold back from your partner out of embarrassment or fear of rejection. However, consider the power of feeling loved for who you are, even though there are some parts of you you’re not especially happy about. When we stop holding back the messy parts of ourselves, we are showing trust for our partner’s capacity to love us unconditionally.

Made Strong Through Weakness

Strong relationships aren’t created by perfect people—they become strong when we are willing to drag all of our imperfections out into the open and say, “Here I am, in all of my mess, can you still love me and stick with me?” This is the glue that holds a relationship together, even in the hard times: needing someone, and feeling needed at the same time.

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Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Communication Problems?

 

When I ask couples what I can help them with, the most common

response is “communication problems.” In my mind, this term has become a catch-all expression for couples who aren’t really sure what is wrong or who haven’t yet been ready to face deeper issues. They don’t realize they are actually communicating through non-verbal body language, yelling, or even the silent treatment. Problems arise because, as individuals, they don’t recognize the message being sent to them or even the message they are sending to their significant other. After exploring their situation further, I often find that there is much more going on than simple communication problems.

Let’s break down the idea of “communication problems” to see what could really be lurking underneath:

  1. Uncomfortable emotions– Our primary emotions are often difficult to feel because they are uncomfortable (hurt, loneliness, jealousy, etc.). Because they are uncomfortable, we often cover them up with another emotion. Enter: Anger. Anger loves to disguise what you are really feeling. It gives us the illusion that we are dealing with the issue, when in fact, we are getting further and further away from it by trying to satisfy and quench our anger. When you find communication breaking down and yourself getting angry and lashing out at your spouse, ask yourself this question, “What am I really feeling?” This will help you dig deeper in order to recognize, feel, and cope with what’s really going on. Anger obviously leads to communication problems because it masks the real issue.
  2. Displacement– You have heard of Dad coming home after a bad day at work and kicking the dog in the driveway because he almost tripped over him. The dog did nothing to deserve it other than being alive, but still got the brunt of Dad’s frustration. Similarly, we often displace our difficulties onto our partner. Sometimes we don’t tell them what’s really bothering us and sometimes we do. But either way, communication problems arise because we are struggling with work, children, in-laws, money, self-esteem or other issues not related to our partner. I suggest that when you find yourself displacing issues on your partner, recognize that you are doing so and talk to your partner about what you’re really struggling with. You might find a helping hand waiting for you.
  3. Past Injuries– We carry past problems and emotional injuries with us through life. What happened to us last week, during the first week of marriage or even when we were a child can impact how we relate to our partner today. If our partner has hurt us in the past, we are less likely to feel emotionally (or even physically) safe. In our attempt to guard our emotions, we put up walls or distance ourselves, which increases communication problems. I suggest that when a past injury is lingering, address it with your partner. If you are unable to solve it, then seek professional help. When your leg is broken, you go to the doctor; when your relationship is broken, you go to a therapist. They are trained to help you through these difficult issues.
  4. Lack of communication skills– Sometimes we don’t communicate well because we simply don’t know how. Learning basic principles of communication will empower you to express yourself in a healthy manner. By going to school, we learn how to be doctors, teachers, or lawyers, but we don’t learn the basics of human interaction and communication. The learning process doesn’t just come naturally to everyone. Deliberate learning and application will help you become an effective communicator. When it comes to marital communication, John Gottman (The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work) and Susan Johnson (Hold Me Tight) have paved the way through research and practice. Read these books and practice with your partner. You will get better.

When communication with your partner becomes difficult, remember that the underlying problem may not simply be that one of you lacks communication skills. Think about what could be hiding beneath the growing anger or distance between you. As you search this out, you may discover deeper issues that you can discuss and deal with together or that, if necessary, you can receive help with from a therapist.

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Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Secrets to Being a Happy Mom

 

I have a love/hate relationship with blogs, Instagram and Facebook. They’re great because they keep me connected with people I care about, but not so great when they intensify my perfectionist tendencies. On rough days, I often catch myself comparing myself to other moms—I scroll through their photos and think to myself, How on earth is she keeping the house clean with four kids? or I don’t get how she looks good all the time whereas I can’t find time to brush my hair,or How is it that her kids all look like they came out of a Janie and Jack catalogue?Logic goes out the window as I become fixated on what I perceive the world views as the “perfect mother” and I slowly feel myself becoming unhappy.

As a therapist, this unhappiness sets off an internal alarm saying that I need to stop and process what’s happening. In moments of weakness, we often doubt ourselves. We lose confidence and forget about our unique capabilities and needs. We get caught up in what we perceive the world thinks our needs and capabilities should be. We believe we have to be perfect, and when we fall short of that unachievable standard we experience shame. The truth is obvious, but can be difficult to accept: we will never be perfect and that’s okay.

There are several things mothers can do to work through this damaging mindset:

1) Stop the comparisons. It’s easy to compare yourself to others, but it is important to note that we all come from different circumstances. Our upbringings, personalities, and hardships are different. Not only is comparing ourselves to others a bad idea that often leads to shame and despair, but     we fundamentally lack the context to make an accurate comparison.

2) Adjust expectations. Take a deep breath and relax. Re-evaluate and figure out what is realistic and what isn’t. Before becoming a mom, I spent many years studying and working with families professionally. I had wonderful imaginations of how I would be as a mother. Then, when I became one, I discovered the bar was set so high I couldn’t even see it. It was overwhelming, so I had to compromise. 15-20 minutes a day of one-on-one quality time with my kids is fine. It’s okay if I go out once a week with my kids instead of 4 or 5 times a week. Those things are still accomplishments. Re-assessing what is realistic and planning to do less was a welcome relief; I discovered that I actually accomplish more because I’m in control.

3) Be kinder to yourself. It’s okay to have a moment when you are frustrated with your kids. Allow yourself to be imperfect and accept it with open arms. Fight the natural inclination to feel shame when you slip up—you’re only human.

4) Own your mistakes. Be an example to your kids of what it looks like to make mistakes and bounce back from them. Your kids don’t need a perfect mom, they need a happy mom who teaches them how to deal with reality. Show them that making mistakes is a part of life—this is a profound lesson that will serve them well. Living this lesson will empower you, too.

Perfectionism is a trap that can catch even the best of us, but when we recognize we’re stuck, we can take steps to get out. We’ll never be perfect, but with work we can be perfectly happy with that.

Written by:

Originally published by Utah Valley Health and Wellness Magazine

Transitioning to Sexual Intimacy: No, No, NO! to Go, Go, GO!

Transitioning to Sexual Intimacy: No, No, NO! to Go, Go, GO!

By Jeremy S. Boden, PhD, CFLE, LAMFT

Many years ago, a student of mine wrote in her paper that upon asking her mom one week before she got married to give her some advice about sex, her mother replied, Well, Honey, people have been having sex since Adam and Eve, you will figure it out, too. That was her sexual education. Pretty exhaustive.

Sexual intimacy is one of the most vulnerable experiences we will engage in this life time. Few experiences can replicate the deep emotional and physical exposure that accompanies being sexual with our partner. Despite the magnitude of the impact that sex can have on the marital relationship, our research of over 1000 married individuals has revealed that few people are prepared for this highly anticipated event. Here are some of the themes and findings from our study.

Sexual Knowledge

Overwhelmingly, one of the most consistent messages we received from our participants was that they just didn’t feel prepared with enough knowledge about the intricacies of sexual intimacy going into marriage. One female respondent stated, I was so uneducated and unknowledgeable about sex and sexual acts. We learned to talk along the way but it took a few years. In fact, only 28% reported any knowledge of human sexual response and less than 7% reported any specific knowledge in how to make love. Many individuals reported that their sexual education in the home could be summarized with one statement, “Just don’t do it.”

Take home message: Dont be afraid to look for material that is in line with your values, get educated, visit a medical and/or mental health professional before and after marriage, and find answers.

Healthy Sexual Messages, Beliefs, and Expectations

From the time we can understand language to high school graduation, we will have received thousands of messages about how to view our own bodies, relationships, marriage, sex, and our own sexuality. Some of these messages can be positive but many are not and can contribute to struggles in the transition to sexual intimacy. One female stated, I was taught growing up sex was bad, dirty and wrong and we didn’t talk about it. When I got married it took a while for us to talk through my fears and for me to grow out of shame and into acceptance and enjoyment. Over and over again respondents indicated that they had unhealthy, unrealistic, or false conceptions of their own sexuality and what sex was or was not going to be like.

Take home message: Become aware of your own sexual beliefs and expectations and share these with your partner before and after marriage. Remember to practice empathy and understanding as you listen to your partner.

 

Emotional Safety

 

When we asked married individuals what advice they would give couples who are about to embark on their first sexual experience together, many encouraged couples to be patient with each other, go slow, and to practice kindness, gentleness, and love during their first time. As one respondent put it, Be patient and understanding. Itll take a while to get the hang of it, and be open and understanding to each others needs. Be loving and concerned about each other. Study after study has noted that when spouses feel emotionally safe and connected, their sex life thrives.

Take home message: Your partner is the most important person in your life, and together, you are embarking on one of the best areas of marriage. Therefore, be kind, soft, patient, understanding, and gentle with each other.

Sexual Communication

According to our study, only 44% of couples talked about their expectations about the wedding night before marriage. Thus, the fourth key to a successful transition into sexual activity was that couples need to communicate before and after their marriage about their expectations, thoughts, and emotions about sexual intimacy. Further, both men and women strongly agreed with the statement, Looking back, I wish we had communicated about sex more before we got married. However, we’ve also learned that it is less about the discussion of specific topics and more about the comfortableness felt in talking about sex before marriage. In other words, if you are able to discuss your expectations about sexual intimacy before marriage, it is likely that this comfortableness will continue on after marriage.

Take home message: You must create a safe environment and push yourself to discuss these important issues surrounding sexual intimacy. Couples who talk about their sex life have better sex and more of it.

When couples can gain adequate knowledge, cultivate healthy sexual scripts, create an emotionally safe relationship, and learn to safely and frequently discuss their sex life, our research supports that their transition to sexual intimacy will be smoother.

What You’re Fighting About Is NOT What You’re Fighting About

This is a pretty mundane example of the type of things married people argue about. It seems like a pretty simple matter on the surface. The discussion was about doing chores. So why did I feel cornered? Why did something as simple as cleaning the kitchen make me feel so much anxiety? This argument was about more than simply cleaning the kitchen. I felt torn between two demands of great importance: my career or my wife’s good will. I keenly felt the burden of my family’s future resting on my shoulders, and what seemed like an endless to-do list. How could I stop working on that to do something as trivial as cleaning? What good was a clean kitchen if we were drowning in student loan debt? But not cleaning the kitchen meant the evaporation of marital bliss. How could I focus on my work with an upset wife on my mind? Either way, I was in trouble.

Any fly on the wall seeing our argument probably would have thought the issue was as simple as a lazy husband not wanting to do chores. But as in almost every argument, there was something deeper going on below the surface. To my wife, this was not merely a matter of having a clean kitchen. For her, it was about peace of mind. Coming home to a messy house after a hard day adds more stress. When the house is messy, it makes her mind feel chaotic and disordered too. Not only that, but a dirty house reminds her of the instability of growing up with a father who had bipolar disorder and refused to take his medicine. The issue of cleaning the kitchen was proxy for some deeper concerns. For me it was about earning enough to take care of my wife and to prepare for children. For my wife it was about feeling safety and peace in her own home.

Arguments can draw a couple closer together, or they can drive a wedge between them. What makes the difference? That question has a few answers, but one of the big things is whether we ever get to the deeper meanings under the surface of the fight. If we stay on the surface, we may have conclusion, but we won’t have resolution; whether I did the cleaning or not, I would have had stress and felt disconnected from my wife. That’s because what I needed, and what every person needs, is to know and feel that their partner understands and respects them. The reason we had an argument had nothing to do with cleaning at all, it was really about her basic need for safety, and my basic need for competence. We couldn’t fix the problem until we acknowledged the source of our strong emotions and what the fight was really about.

The moment we feel understood by our partner, we can think clearly, and then it’s easy to do problem solving. Next time you’re arguing and feeling upset, ask yourself about the deeper issue behind the disagreement. Find out from your partner what their position means to them. Empathize with their thoughts and feelings, and see how much easier it is to resolve arguments.

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Kenneth Jeppesen, LAMFT, MMFT

Kenneth is a therapist at the American Fork Center for Couples and Families and is a licensed associate marriage and family therapist. He enjoys helping individuals and couples find peace and happiness and spends the rest of his time learning about everything!

Emotions 101: The Basics

Most of us try to avoid uncomfortable emotions. Who likes to feel sad, depressed, lonely, hurt, scared or betrayed? Don’t we try to NOT feel this way? Some may even engage in unhealthy behaviors to avoid their emotions.  I encountered this as a common theme in my work at drug and alcohol rehab facilities.  Though it may be unpleasant, I propose that if we want to feel the comfortable emotions in life, we have to get good at feeling the ones that are not so comfortable.

It is important to realize that uncomfortable emotions are not bad.  We all experience a myriad of emotions; some make us feel better than others.  Because of the discomfort that comes with some, many try to avoid them all together, take them out on others, or deal with them in unhealthy ways.  The trick to dealing with emotions in a healthy manner is not to get rid of them, but rather to embrace them and then let them go.  As I work with couples or individuals in therapy, I often review three simple steps to dealing with emotions:

  1. Recognize: Identifying what we are feeling is the first step. If we don’t know what we are feeling, then we will not be able to do anything with it. It will unwittingly control us. When I ask a client what they are feeling they will often reply, “I’m angry.” Anger, however, is what I call a false emotion. It only exists as it attaches itself to what we originally felt. For example, if someone were to post something mean about you on social media it might make you feel hurt. What is our natural reaction to something like this? We might want to lash out at that person. This is us embracing anger instead of hurt. In this case, the anger covers up the hurt and offers the illusion that it is protecting us—that it is keeping us safe from future hurt—when all it is doing is making it so that we remain hurt. Anger is insatiable. It can never be satisfied. Have you ever felt good after embracing your anger? No. We feel even more angry. That is why I call anger a false emotion. Let anger be the first sign that you are actually feeling something else. Ask yourself the question, “What am Ireally feeling?” in order to recognize your true emotions.
  2. Feel: This is the hardest step. After we have recognized that we feel hurt, for example, we usually don’t want to embrace that feeling. This goes back to not wanting to feel uncomfortable feelings. When we allow ourselves to feel these emotions, we then have power to do something with them. Consider the following example: You have a couch in your house that you really detest. This is the ugliest, most horrible piece of furniture ever created. It is so ugly that no one will touch it. How do you handle it? You can’t magically make it disappear—you actually have to pick it up and move it yourself. It seems ironic that in order to move something out of your house that you don’t like, you actually have to get closer to it and touch it. The same goes for our emotions. When we feel them (get closer to them, touch them, pick them up) then we have the power to do something with them.
  3. Cope: This is the step most people want to skip straight to. We want to cope with or let go of our emotions without feeling them. But doing this can get us into trouble. When we try to cope with our emotions without first picking them up, what we are really doing is distracting ourselves from feeling something uncomfortable. This is similar to taking a blanket and covering the ugly couch in our house—it’s still there! What we choose to distract ourselves with (i.e., social media, pornography, substances, food, work) then becomes our go-to every time we feel uncomfortable, and an addiction is born. Coping with an emotion involves not forcing it to leave and not forcing it to stay. We let it go after it has run its course. Then we can do something that helps us recover—such as reading a book or talking with a friend.

Learning to deal with uncomfortable emotions can feel counterintuitive at times. Our initial response may be to react with anger or push them away.  But, as we practice embracing our feelings in order to let them go, we will develop habits that will improve our emotional health and overall internal peace.

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Triston Morgan, PhD, LMFT

Dr. Morgan is a director and co-owner of Center for Couples and Families, a counseling center, in Utah Valley. He is licensed as a PhD marriage and family therapist, and is originally from Oregon. He and his beautiful wife, Cristina, love to travel and see the world.

Eating Healthy Under Pressure

Comfort is often found in the food we grew up with as a child. I have fond memories of camping in the mountains with hot dogs and s’mores over the fire, pizza at parties with soft drinks, and the decadent desserts we enjoyed as a family. Unfortunately, these foods are what contributed to me getting sick.

After making what many people viewed as a drastic change in my eating, I started bringing my own food to parties and family gatherings. Raw pizza with plenty of green salad and fruit graced my plate as I noticed weird looks from others at the table. Occasionally someone got up the nerve to ask what I was eating, making looks and comments of disgust after finding out. This hurt my feelings as I took their words to heart and I began withdrawing from these events to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Not long afterward, however, I realized this was only hurting me so I decided not to allow their comments or actions determine what I ate and how I felt. As I took care of myself, I became more confident and healthy and others took notice.

Friends and family asked me different questions with genuine interest. These were perfect opportunities for me to help educate them about the reasons I decided to eat more raw foods and the many benefits I received because of it. Sometimes they asked if they could taste my food followed by a request for the recipes. I was elated and appreciated their authenticity.

Many people struggle in social situations because they have different nutritional needs due to food allergies and ill health. If this is you, here are some great tips to help you navigate the occasion with ease.

TIPS FOR THE GUEST:

  1. Eat before you go so you are full and can enjoy socializing without worrying about the food.
  2. Position yourself in a different part of the room away from the food as you talk.
  3. Bring something to share with everyone that your family or friends love. Be ready to share the recipe.
  4. Choose larger amounts of the foods you can have like the salads, fruit, vegetables, etc. and skip what you’ll regret later.
  5. Go early to help the host prepare the food and politely ask if you can leave the croutons on the side of the salad instead of putting them in, for example.
  6. If the host takes extra care to make something special for you, be sure to thank them and show your appreciation for their extra attention to detail.
  7. Put your thick skin on and don’t worry about what other people say about your food. Realize that many people aren’t trying to be insensitive, they genuinely want to understand your situation. Educate them about it and be open, honest and kind in your replies.
  8. If you are the parent of a child with special food needs, bring something for them to eat and/or share to ease the burden of the host.
  9. Teach your child to be polite and not make a big deal about what they can’t eat or don’t like. They can decline what is being offered and thank the host for their hospitality.
  10. Keep your conversation about a variety of different topics other than just food. Be interesting and genuinely interested in others.

TIPS FOR THE HOST:

If you are the host of the event, you may want to prepare ahead with the following suggestions.

  1. On the invitations…(read the rest of the story)

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by:Wendy Thueson

Fast and Steady Wins the Race – Center for Couples and Families

In speaking with Jared about his race experience, it turns out that he was not utilizing his statistics knowledge to determine his race pace.  It was more about how he felt during the race.  Jared said, “I went into the race knowing what pace I could run.  When they (Tyler Pennell, Galen Rupp, and Meb Keflezighi) took off faster, I realized I couldn’t run that pace and decided to not cover their move completely hoping at least one of them would come back to me.”  However, Jared did increase his pace from around 5:05 to 4:50, then back to around 5:00 for a while to not let them get too far away.  There are so many physical and psychological factors that go into performance that being too set on a specific pace will often lead to hampered performance.  Jared tries to combine what he knows about his ability and what occurs during the race, “I focus on balancing what others are doing in their strategy with the pacing strategy that I’m hoping for on that given day.”

Among amateur racers, we often see more of a focus on reacting to what others do more than what is best for an individual strategy.  While watching the 2016 Utah High School State Championships for track and field in May, I noticed how many different strategies there were for pacing.

Lap splits are included in the results for the Utah State Meet.  Browsing through those makes it clear that pacing mistakes were made.  In some cases, a fast early pace leads to very slow final laps.  Other athletes begin the race very slowly and even with finishing fast, end up many places beneath their potential.

Overall, a nearly even pacing strategy through the majority of the race will lead to the best possible times.  In the 1994 Los Angeles Marathon, Paul Pilkington was paid to be a rabbit through 25km.  He went out at the correct pace, but the other athletes did not stay with him.  He felt strong and decided he might as well finish.  With a two-minute lead, he continued on at a similar pace.  He crossed the line in 2:12:13 winning $27,000 and a Mercedes.  After the race he had to rush home to teach his writing class at Washington High School the next morning and trade in his family van that had 100,000 miles on it.

Motivated runners can push themselves to the limits of performance.  Starting a race too fast and finishing with great effort, but a slow time is not nearly as fun at racing at the right pace and achieving a personal record.

Jared learned from his master’s thesis that even experienced runners tend to start too fast.  He studied split times from the Saint George Marathon and found those that achieved their time goals had the third quarter of the race as the fastest, while the majority that failed in their time goals ran the first quarter as their fastest.  So, choose the right average pace from training results with a coach’s help, run that pace early on, and see how your body responds in the final stages.

Originally published on Utah Valley Health and Wellness

Written by: Ian Hunter, PhD