What is Your Self-Care Catch Phrase?

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on August 18, 2011 2:45 pm

I love vacations. I love road trips. I love eating. These three things added up spell, “weight gain.” Well not exactly, but “IlovevacationsIloveroadtripsIloveeating” does not pass a spell check.

Despite my best efforts, on our recent vacation to New York and the East Coast of Canada, I sacrificed healthy eating for convenient eating; sandwiches, snacks, pretzels, subs, some fresh fruit but very little vegetables. As a result, by the end of the two weeks I could feel the difference in my body. Even my eleven-year-old step daughter could feel it, “When I get home, I going to eat vegetables for a whole week!” she said. Experience is a great teacher.

In the midst of our “carb carnage”, we came up with a catchy phrase and/or mnemonic aid – a mental technique for making information easier to memorize  — to help ourselves remember two of the most important elements of physical fitness: diet and exercise. We called it our “One-Two Punch” (I would have preferred a more non-violent phrase but I was sleep deprived). I used the metaphor of a video game with my son to help him understand the relationship between the two, “You can’t win a video game with just one hand on the controller. You have to eat right and exercise if you want to stay physically healthy. It’s just that simple.”

We even came up with uses for the fingers and thumbs. On the “Food Hand” we had:
1) Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” (Cameron, 2007),
2) If yes, then ask, “Is it the right time to eat?” (late night eating contributes to weight gain),
3) If yes to 1 and 2, then ask, “Is this a healthy food choice?”,
4) The pinkie finger was, “Don’t forget to drink water.”

On the “Daily Exercise Hand,” to help us remember the most important elements of physical health, we had:
1) Cardio Training (increasing your heart rate to a sweat to the point of sweating),
2) Strength Training (for strong muscles and bones),
3) Stretching (to increase flexibility and prevent injuries),
4) Balance Training (strengthening core and stabilizer muscles)

If/when we met all of the criteria on either hand, we could give ourselves a “thumbs up” signifying a mission accomplished. As we continued on our trip, this “One-Two Punch” came in handy a few times and the kids were a great help trying to keep me on track every time I reached for a Goldfish Pretzel, “Are you hungry Dad?” my son would chime in from the back seat. Through gritted teeth, I would say “No, I’m not my boy. Thank you for the reminder.” Yes, experience is a great teacher as long as we are willing to learn.

Have a Happy August!

Take good care,

Derrick Shirley



Cameron, J (2007). The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size. Penguin Group, New York.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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