Tools for living with more ease, self-acceptance, and fulfullment
Suzanne Manser, PhD
Licensed Psychologist

Tool of the Day:
The Mason Jar Strategy

The Mason Jar Strategy is super helpful when you realize that you're not spending your time the way you want to be. You might be feeling drained or unfulfilled as a result.

Imagine an empty Mason jar with three piles next to it: a pile of big rocks, a pile of gravel, and a pile of sand. The piles represent all of the things you have to and want to do in a day. The big rocks are the most important tasks. The sand is the minor stuff, like brushing your teeth, and the gravel is everything else.

How do you fit as much of the rocks, gravel, and sand as possible in the Mason jar?

Turns out it depends what you start with.

If you start with the sand, you will fill the whole jar with sand and there will be no room for rocks or gravel. If you start with the gravel, you can fill the jar with gravel and there will still be room for a lot of sand between the gravel, but there will be no room for big rocks. If you start with the big rocks, you can fill the jar with big rocks and still have room for gravel between the rocks and then sand between the gravel.

Be intentional about how you fill your jar. Take time to decide what is most important to you in your day. Schedule those items into your day first. Then go to the gravel and schedule as much of that in as you can. The sand generally takes care of itself.

Prioritize the big rocks.

Somewhat Random but Helpful
Science-Based Articles

How to Help Teen Girls Cope with Stress
New research helps explain how stressful events make teens vulnerable to anxiety and depression—and points to ways to help them cope better.

 

How To Keep Your Empathy Switched On
Emiliana Simon-Thomas explains how empathy works in the brain and why we should resist the urge to turn away from suffering.
(This one’s a video)

 

Singing in the Brain
Researchers have identified a population of neurons in the auditory cortex that responds to singing, but not any other type of music.

 

Eating Disorders Corner

“Food is not the enemy. Self-hate is.”
— TheLoveYourselfChallenge

 This corner is devoted to addressing eating disorders, disordered eating, and body image. I have specialized in treating people with all of the above since 1999. It is a large part of my work and my heart. This corner is for those of us on the journey of disconnecting our worth from our size or what we eat.

The Fallacy of the BMI

The formula for Body Mass Index (BMI) is kg/m2 (weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared). This weight/height ratio is used as a general measure of an individual’s health.

People get classified into one of four categories based on their BMI: Underweight, Healthy Weight, Overweight, and Obese. Doctors use it as if it were a real thing and provide treatment based on this formula.

Which would be fine if the BMI actually assessed individual health. It does not. That is a fallacy.

Quick history lesson: the BMI was invented in the 1800’s by a mathematician (not a doctor) who wanted to know what the “average man” looked like (nothing about health here). It was used to describe a population of people (not an individual). His research was based largely on white, European men (therefore only applies to white, European men). At the time, it was called the Quetelet Index. It was never intended to be a measure of individual health.

Over 100 years later, health and life insurance companies began using it to determine a person’s coverage. Doctors began using it to determine a person’s treatment. This assumes that everyone’s health is correlated with the weight and height ratio of white, European men.

In the 1970’s, the Quetelet Index was renamed the Body Mass Index after it was determined to be a good assessment of body fat (based on a study of European and American men). By the way, the BMI can’t tell what percentage of a person’s weight is based on fat, muscle, or bone.

As you may have gathered, there are SO MANY problems with using the BMI as a basis for health treatment or insurance coverage, starting with the fact that it was never intended to be and is NOT a measure of health. A ratio of weight and height does not speak to health. Research backs this up: the BMI has not been found to be a good predictor of metabolic health.

Another glaring problem with the BMI is that it is applied to everyone but does not take body diversity into account. Bodies naturally differ in size and fat percentage based on genetics, ethnicity, gender, and age. A 25-year-old Black woman’s body is not supposed to look like a 50-year-old white man’s body. That doesn’t make one or the other automatically “unhealthy.” What is unhealthy for one person may be healthy for another and vice versa.

Another major problem is that the four categories are not based on scientific data. They are fairly arbitrary. Case in point: in 1998, the BMI was lowered overnight based on the request of a pharmaceutical company that sold weight-loss drugs. Overnight, millions of people suddenly became “overweight” and “obese” and were treated differently by insurance companies and doctors.

Bottom line: There is no weight range that is a marker of health for every body. There is no weight to be “over” that indicates declining health. “Overweight” and “obese” are incorrect and stigmatizing terms.

The BMI is simply NOT a measure of individual health. It never was. What it does is stigmatizes people because their bodies don’t have the weight/height ratio of a group of white European and American men.

If we were interested in health, it would be much more useful to assess weight stigma. Weight stigma causes actual health issues.

 

References:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a35047103/bmi-racist-history/

 

https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/the-body-mass-index/id1535408667?i=1000530850955

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/18/style/is-bmi-a-scam.html

 

 Check Out This Podcast 

 

Depresh Mode with John Moe

Honest, humane conversations with top artists, entertainers, and experts about what it's like to live with an interesting mind. No shame, no stigma, and more laughs than you might expect from a mental health podcast.

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vol. 2, issue 1

My intent with each issue of this newsletter is to bring more ease, self-acceptance, meaning, and fulfillment into our lives.
 
I share useful strategies, explanations, information, and resources that support the journey.  

 

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Disclaimer: This newsletter is not therapy and is not intended as a substitute for therapy.

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