Fit vs. Fiction Body Awareness: A Platform to Raise awareness of Society’s Impact on OUR Kids’ Self Images

Marci Warhaft Nadler (@fit_vs_fiction) and I met about a year ago and the more I got to know her and what she was doing to raise awareness about what societal messages are doing to our kids’ perception of beauty and fitness, the more I learned about how important this topic is, and how many more parents need to be aware of its existence. I cannot put into words how this has changed my awareness and impact on my own kids. I’ve asked Marcie to tell her story so that I could post it here on my blog. Here are her words:

“Over the last few years I’ve become more and more concerned with the amount of pressure being put on kids to live up to the unrealistic images they see on TV and in magazines. Hard to believe, but boys and girls as young 7 yrs old have begun putting their health at risk by turning to drastic measures to lose weight in an effort to be skinny. While the recent focus on erasing the problem of childhood obesity is well intended, it may actually be trying to fix one problem by creating a different one.

Feelings of shame and guilt are resulting in parents stressing over every bite their child takes and every minute of TV they watch and this stress is filtering down to their kids. For every obese child in Canada, there are even more who are not obese, but who THINK they are and hate themselves because of it. Fear is not the answer. It’s time to stop fearing food and start learning how to enjoy and appreciate it with balance and moderation.

Fit vs Fiction is breaking down myths related to beauty and fitness and gives kids the chance to TALK about this issue in a way they never have before. After conquering my own severe body image and eating disorder issues for over 20 yrs, my goal is to prevent other kids from the pitfalls I wasn’t lucky enough to avoid.

The Fit vs Fiction Body Image Awareness campaign was designed to wake people up to the fact that our kids are struggling and need our help. We can’t control the negative messages society throws at them on a daily basis, but we can make sure they hear the right messages from us and that our voices are even louder!

Help me help kids like themselves again and forward these posters to everyone you know!”

Visit Marcie’s Facebook Page.

Power to the People: New Media has come to the Aid of Revolution

Yesterday I wrote a post on the Digital Journal, entitled, “Revolution and the Power of New Media” My view is that social media will change the way people will act/react against a suppressed regime. It has proven to already change the way these governments react when forced transparency comes into view and the world is watching. It’s already happening in this domino effect we’re seeing in the Middle East. I’ve also posted my article below:

The recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Bahrain and Libya are evidence of how new media is giving rise to a new confidence in suppressed nations.

The ability to collaborate at will, and send messages to the  world at large has provided a strong outlet to an otherwise disenfranchised  population. The world is watching and the power of new tools makes it  increasingly difficult for dictatorships to contain local events and sustain  any kind of propaganda it has created.
I’ve kept an eye on the events in  each of these nations.  Most recently, Libya linking to the most recent news via Google has been the my source for the breaking news from the man-on-the-street.   The constant stream from those caught in the situation is staggering:   Some noted tweets:

Sadly, the situation in Libya has  seriously deteriorated. Gaddafi has turned off the Internet and massacres  across the country have begun.

The massacre in #Libya  is disgusting & shocking. Can only hope it’s the last days of this  regim… (cont)

u r growing & yr voice is being heard #gadafi    is out of his comfort zone keep the pressure.Millions of the arab  american r behind u

youtube is accessible in Tripoli, please  upload videos now #Libya

Muammar Gaddafi’s son: “We will  fight until the last bullet”  #libya

This past Sunday,  Feb 20th, the US Department of State (Bureaucracy of Democracy, Human Rights  and labor) created a page on Facebook denouncing the situation.

It’s  clear in Egypt, Tunisia and even Libya, that despite the government’s ability  to disable major communication channels, demonstrators are finding ways to  congregate and collaborate with resounding voice, defiant conviction and a  fervor that will not be denied.

Curation allows individuals to  aggregate relevant information wherever it occurs into one application in an  organized framework. I set up an account on Storify and tested this on Friday,  re some rumours about Steve Jobs’ ailing health. I pulled RSS feed using specific key words and applied the same for Twitter  and Facebook. By allowing me to properly sequence the events, this app allowed  me to (within a short amount of time) be an investigative journalist and  validate whether the stated rumour about the 6 weeks left that Jobs  purportedly to had left to live was indeed true. It also allowed me to share  my findings with my networks and provide everyone I knew access to the same  information. This information was critical in the Middle East events and it  has allowed individuals to pull in feeds from Youtube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter to create a chronologic narrative of all these events and syndicate them.

Another important innovation is Tor.  This  app can be used online and is downloadable on Android phones and claims,  ‘Anonymity Online:  Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic  analysis.” Used by journalists to protect sources of information,  and  “activists to report abuses from danger zones”, this application has proven  critical for Android users to access email, messenger without being tracked or  even blocked.

Tom Hayes of the Huffington Post remarks about a number  of other applications in his post a few days ago. His article gave a practical view of technology and means the common  people were using to make their voice be heard. Even the government’s insane  attempt to go to lengths to mute the voice of the people by disabling the  internet has not weakened individuals. Their voices and the images they’ve  created are loud and clear and it’s there for the world to see.

As I  write this article, Gadaffi is on his way out of Libya. I shed a tear as I  read, “There’s something  extraordinarily helpless about sitting here on Twitter while people are likely  being killed right now in Tripoli. #libya”

And  yet I am encouraged by the fact that I need not rely on tomorrow’s paper to  tell me what is happening now… That we have evolved with journalists and  commoners in a single voice…  A voice made that much more powerful  because of the technology that has enabled, and continues to enable its  amplification. It is so clear that new media is increasingly putting the power  in the hands of the individual, perhaps the much needed innovation that will  radically transforms the way people are governed.

The point here is  this and it’s quoted from a must-read article so well-stated from “The revolution is being blogged, tweeted, shot and  streamed by those in the act of making  it.”

Happy Rambles … a Great Start for a New Year

The start of a new year brings with it a time of introspection, some nostalgia and many more regrets. We aim to do better this year– be healthier, be more patient, be kinder…. be happier.

And regrettably, we fail even before the snow melts into spring. It’s not because we didn’t try or we’ve lost commitment. But we are always so wrapped up in the “event” of the moment that we are not aware that we fell back on our promise to ourselves. We either choose to ignore the minor aberration or we fortuitously put it on the back burner, promising to revisit it again, and “this time” make it stick.

I do this every year. And every time I yell at my kids to hurry up before I miss my train .. or show impatience with my son for not getting his homework… or tell my husband that he doesn’t do enough around the house…. I kick myself for not being able to control my emotions mid-stream. Afterwards, the guilt sets in and I berate myself promising to take a “chill pill” and “be less mean”. Typically the process follows: I apologize to the recipient of my attack then I hug them with all my might while I wail with guilt, promising that I’ll handle it better the next time.

Well, it is 2011, the start of a new year and I promised myself that this is the year to change. I don’t feel so neurotic as I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love” and I realize I am not so alone for feeling like I’ve failed in this part of my life.

Then the email came from a friend of mine, Faisal Sethi, who I consider a constant innovator, a great creative mind with an incessant passion to venture into new territories and challenge himself. In the past year, Faisal’s program Do-Good (an ad blocker technology in support of good causes) gained traction and was featured in TechCrunch.

Faisal recently sent me a note touting his new site: HappyRambles. The mission of the site: create and maintain a gratitude journal for life. People who maintain a gratitude journal are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals.

I asked Faisal how he came to start Happy Rambles. “The past couple of years have been challenging for me. I got married, mortgaged a house, quit my job, started up (and shut down) a social enterprise, and had my father move in with us. I’ve been watching him slowly wither away from cancer, diabetes, and dementia. Needless to say it has been extremely difficult, and frankly, has made me feel down in the dumps for a time.

So, I started doing some research on happiness. What is it? How do we attain it? How can we sustain it? And voilà, Happy Rambles was born. I’m happy to say it’s been working for me. :)”

This reminded me of Neil Pasricha’s TedTalk on 1000 Awesome Things. Sometimes we find strength and hope even in our lowest moments and Faisal found a glimmer of light and he hung on to it… and now he’s brought it to the rest of us.

In his research, he came across the following findings: people who maintain a gratitude journal (vs those that do not)
• Are 25% happier
• Are 25% more energetic
• Show 20% less envy and resentment
• Sleep 10% longer each night
• Wake up 15% more refreshed
• Exercise 33% more
• Show a 10% drop in blood pressure
• Are 25% more altruistic
• Can produce positive effects that last up to 6 months
• Add up to 9 years on their lives
• Have higher grades and occupational attainment (happier students are earning $25,000 more 10 years after graduation)

This was enough motivation to get me starting my own daily journal. And it keeps me committed. Every night Happy Rambles will email me the question “What are you grateful for today?” I can reply with three to five things and my entry is immediately stored in my own private, secure and personal online gratitude journal. Today I put up my first post

“I am grateful for my husband and kids. Family is what makes it easy to get out of bed every day and tackle challenges. They are the reason that I am so adamant that I will be more patient, more loving, and as my husband says, “be less serious, and have more fun”. My outlook in life needs to change. This is my promise to myself this year… and going forward.”

I still say this is the first day of the rest of my life. Maybe I can go forward a little bit more positively and with less regrets.

Thanks Faisal!

By the way, to connect with Happy Rambles, Faisal sent me the following links: Blog, Facebook, Twitter

And I encourage you to “Ramble on”! Embraces the New Technology while Appealing to the Sensibilities of their Customers

I’ve had the awesome privilege of working with, (parent company of in the last couple of years, introducing them to a medium that would help supplement their acquisition and retention efforts. While it started with educating them in social media, they were one client that came to quickly embrace it and realize the inherent benefits as it related to ROI. Along the way, social media became a strong channel to quickly gauge customer service satisfaction, test promotions, and alert the business to new insights about their most valuable customers.
This experience has opened their eyes to the possibility of launching a service, leveraging grass roots as a way to help build the business from the ground up – while maintaining and nurturing those key customer relationships along the way.  Rob Weatherall, of Directbrands, has been a true maverick for the brands he manages and has been open to developing and carving out a new channel to help drive marketing efforts.

For, social media would prove to be somewhat of a challenge– had a few barriers to contend:

  • For a new brand, it had little to no brand awareness
  • had to brace itself against the mighty and Indigo/Chapters in order to hope to create some visibility within the Canadian book category
  • The advent of e-books and e-reader technology would be difficult to overcome given’s core proposition: traditional hard and soft cover books

But bookscene has overcome these obstacles and has found a way to play in this category by differentiating its offering and its appeal to consumers. Through social media, bookscene has been able to really define itself in the Canadian marketplace and will continue to do so. The relationship began with a conversation, and it’s this enduring dialogue that will keep appealing to consumers in a way that will build loyalty for their business.
Please read the full article on is officially launching September 29, 2010 at the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto (link). Please RSVP to attend this event.

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