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F as in Fat

The Trust for America’s Health and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released their annual “F as in Fat” report this month. Guess what—America is overweight and obese.

I know this isn’t a shock to anyone, but as this map points out we have ONE state with an obesity rate below 20%. More importantly, eight states, plus D.C. have childhood obesity rates greater than 20%: Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. And their parents (84%) believe their children are at a healthy weight.

I don’t know what is more disheartening—that kids are overweight or that their parents don’t think anything is wrong.

But it does seem that at least some people are starting to wake up. In the last two years programs and policies preventing obesity have increased exponentially in number, strength and breadth.

Twenty states and D.C. set nutritional standards for school lunches, breakfasts and snacks that are stricter than current U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements.   And they are trying to bring back health education and physical education.

So even though HHS failed at reaching their goal of reducing the obesity rate to 15 percent in all the states by 2010….there may be some glimmer of hope.

Blurry Lines

Apparently the line between advertising and public relations has always been blurry.  It’s not just this new fangled thing called social media.

Last night’s Mad Men showed that when Pete and Peggy pulled off their “PR stunt, that they couldn’t bill for.” While the stunt wasn’t exactly what PR events are made of these days, the idea was pretty dead on.

The elements of PR vs. advertising highlighted by the turkey escape were control and longevity.

Control

Since advertising space is paid for companies are able to maintain control of an advertisement’s content and exactly when and where an ad will appear.

As seen with Peggy’s need for bail money…not so much with PR. With PR you can lead the journalist to the information but that doesn’t mean they are going to use it the way you want them to or even at all.

Longevity

The fight over the turkey was what we call a “flash in the pan.” Peggy and her new friend Joey (adorable btw) had to turn it into ads that had a longer shelf life.

And while the title of this advertising-centric TV show was “Public Relations” and it showed the power a poorly executed interview can yield over a company…I kinda hope it just sticks to advertising. I don’t really like having to explain to my grandparents how my job isn’t in advertising.

Food Fight

At least 1/3 of kids’ diets come from cafeteria lunches, ones that can cause obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure later in life.

A new study from the University of Michigan Health System found that middle-school kids who regularly eat school-provided lunches, compared with those who bring lunch from home, are more likely to be overweight, develop poor eating habits, and have high levels of “bad” cholesterol.

What is on the menu for change?

The Child Nutrition Program – the major legislation that determines U.S. school food policy – is up for reauthorization this year.

The Senate may also vote on the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which seeks to upgrade the current nutrition requirements of the National School Lunch program.

But don’t wait for them.

School lunches are ultimately up to the school district. So write to your principal, PTA or superintendent. Tell them what the kids in your area need in their lunches.

Getting Out of Work on Time

Something I seem to struggle with is the ability to clock out at 5:30. No matter how hard I try more often than not 5:30 comes and goes just like 6:30 and sometimes even 9:30.

I know I am not alone when I say public relations is not a 9-5 job. However, overtime has actually been linked to a 60% higher risk of heart problems. So maybe it wouldn’t be a bad thing to figure out how to get out with enough time to exercise.

Here are a few things I am going to start/already am doing with some serious effort:

  1. Doing my most important task first. One of the things I love about PR is that your day can change in the blink of an eye. But from now on, the night before I am going to decide the most important project for the next day. This will save time spent mulling over my to-do list and may boost my productivity for the rest of the day because I will feel accomplished.
  2. Prepare for meetings. A co-worker (you know who you are if you actually read the post instead of just the headline) sets reminders on her calendar to prepare for meetings. Even though I create agendas and read materials beforehand its time that I start thinking about what I am going to say and contribute so I am not wasting my client or team’s time.
  3. Avoiding Chatty Kathy. I like the people I work with, a lot. We tell fun stories and have inside jokes because when you are with people for 40+ hours a week, you have to find something to do other than work. But, I have learned that a lot of my day goes to those laugh breaks we take. In an effort to be more productive I now set times where my co-worker (same person here) and I “go dark.” Both of us get more work done quicker and its really working out great.
  4. Stay organized. Somewhere between high school and three years of working I lost my organization skills. My desk and filing system make me nauseous.  I need to start keeping “hot” folders—the things I reference most on my desk. Also I should try to have one spiral notebook per client…it’s amazing how easy it is to refer back to notes when you know exactly where it is.
  5. Figuring out where my time is going. (Right now, it’s looking for apartments UGH NYC apartment hunting is so stressful) In a perfect world doctor’s offices would open at 7:00 and close at midnight. Sometimes you just have to make those personal calls to the Credit Card Company and what not. I found that if I do it all at once, instead of sporadically I am not distracting myself over and over again. For example, my doctor’s office opens at 9:00 I use the time from 9:00-9:30 to do what I need to do and then I am done. It worked out really nicely the other day.
  6. Planning to leave early. Don’t laugh. Really stop it. Here’s the thing, when you have a deadline, you’re less likely to waste time. I am not saying I should be leaving at 4:30. But setting a goal to leave 30 minutes sooner than I do now, could potentially give me something to strive to.

Hindsight is 20-20: Prepping for Corporate Life

During a recent #u30pro chat, I commented that I wished college taught us how to handle corporate politics.

The concept itself isn’t something new for me. When my alma mater did a survey two years ago, it was something I mentioned they should add.

While I got a few responses, the one that got me thinking the most came from a former (and favorite) professor…@rdwaters.

He said it was possible the reason more true workplace scenarios aren’t taught is because the students would whine and complain. It really got me thinking, as a junior (when I was in his class) would I have really wanted to learn more about working in the business world.

It wasn’t my only class. I was working part-time. I wanted to enjoy myself…I mean it was college.  As Dr. Waters pointed out to me, most students don’t snap to attention until their last year or even last semester.

I guess there are some things you have to learn through experience, like when to speak up, how to ask for a raise and how to deal with that one co-worker that just irks you.

Is my hindsight clouding my judgment? Or was there really something I could have learned in college?