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FoMO Fear of Missing Out: Benefits and Consequences

FoMO Fear of Missing Out:  Benefits and Consequences

Some of you may be very familiar with the acronym FoMO, while others may be hearing it for the first time.  FoMO is an abbreviation for the “fear of missing out.”  It was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013.  It is becoming common in developed countries, especially with the millennial generation.  However, Dr. Dan Herman states that it affects nearly 70% of adults in certain countries.  FoMO is defined as an emotion based on the belief that there is something exciting or interesting going on that you may be missing out on.  FoMO is not all bad though.  Let’s look at some of the benefits and consequences that FoMO has on our world and us today.

FoMO Dr. Terri Wenner/ Created with Canva

The Benefits of FoMO

Let’s start with the positive.  A desire not to miss out on something fun, interesting, or exciting can be a very good thing.  It may prompt you to get up early or do something outside your comfort zone.  Not wanting to miss out on an upcoming Spartan Race or Tough Mudder can motivate you to train hard, lose weight, and improve your general health.  You might push yourself beyond what you thought was possible and achieve great things.

I recently completed my doctoral degree and I must admit that part of my motivation was FoMO related.  Most of my colleagues had already earned their doctoral degree.  There were frequent reminders that I did not hold the same credentials or respect that they did.  I also knew that my career options as a university professor were limited without this degree.  This left me with a low-level fear that not having the degree would leave me missing out on wonderful opportunities.  In this case, my FoMO gave me the push I needed to accomplish something I didn’t think was possible.

The Consequences of FoMO

On the other hand, not everything about FoMO is good.  When any kind of fear has a hold of you, you can easily become controlled by it.  Much like an addiction, the fear guides your decisions and behavior.  Let me give you a few examples.  You may not feel like paying your car payment.  But the fear of having your car repossessed causes you to pay the bill.  Being afraid you won’t fit in your wedding dress or suit pushes you to exercise and eat healthy.  Concern over not passing a test often prompts people to study harder.

While my examples have positive outcomes, not all fears are beneficial.  The fear of missing out may cause you to focus on the negative things in life.  It becomes like watching a shopping channel on TV and being unable to make any purchases.  Temptations are constantly dangled in front of your eyes, but every time you can’t have everything you want.  You want to be more places than you can physically be at one time.  There is a desire to leave the door open for a better opportunity.  You become obsessive about knowing about and being involved in everything you see as the best option.

Always looking for something better and focusing on what you can’t have has the potential to cause great anxiety and even depression.  How can you relax if you always need to stay aware of options?  Can you find contentment if you’re always seeking a better choice?  How can enjoy deep relationships if you’re splitting your time between 3 parties instead of choosing just one?  The craving not to miss anything often causes you to overbook your life, be constantly stressed and usually running late.

You Can’t Escape:  7 Ways FoMO Affects All of Us

If you’re reading this and thinking about those poor people with FoMO, think again.  Living in a developed or developing country puts you right in the middle of the FoMO cycle.  So, even if you haven’t fallen into the trap personally, you are still being impacted by it.  Here are 7 ways that FoMO is affecting you and the way you live.

  1. Choices.

    In years past, there were only a few options if you wanted to purchase something new.  Today, we literally have hundreds of choices for every product imaginable.  Recently our family had to purchase a new washer and dryer.  We had the choice of going to several local stores or shopping online.  Regardless of which we chose there were tons of selections involving different prices, colors, styles, and options.  FoMO pushes you to explore every single option so you find the absolute best product at the best price.

  2. Marketing.

    The marketing world knows that up to 70% of people are driven by FoMO to some degree.  So, they design marketing campaigns to draw you in and to win the sale.  Maybe you’ve heard phrases like, “the best choice,”  “you deserve it,”  “don’t miss out,” or “while supplies last.”  Or maybe you’ve noticed that once you have searched online for an item, personalized advertisement efforts show you pictures of 10 more similar options.

  3. Electronic Communication.

    Our interest in not missing anything is fed by the instant access to electronic communications.  We can receive emails, texts, and chat messages including pictures in a matter of seconds from just about anywhere in the world.  Unlike mail delivery that comes, once a day, electronic communication comes constantly even while you are sleeping.  So, there is a constant temptation to check to see if anything important or exciting was delivered, no matter what time of day it is, or what is going on.

  4. Increased Transportation.

    When I grew up, we had one family car and when dad was at work, we had no transportation.  Today, it seems that as soon as teenagers reach the legal age, they not only get their license but also get a car to go with it.  And we have economic ways to travel by plane, train, and cruise ship as well.  Travel agents appeal to our desires to see many places around the world too.  So, in order not to miss out on seeing the world, too often we rack up credit card debt so we won’t have to miss out.

  5. Instant Gratification/ Delayed Payment.

    Lately we rarely need to wait and when we do, it makes us crazy.  We have fast food and convenience stores when we want to get a bite to eat.  There is a gas station on every corner, so if one is overly crowded, just move on to the next one.  Need a new appliance, new furniture, or a new car?  Buying on credit, getting a loan, or using a delayed payment plan are all good choices.  There is rarely a need to save and buy with cash, unless you are personally convicted to do so.

  6. Social Media.

    I love and use social media on a daily basis.  But there are times when I need to disconnect for my own sanity.  People convey what they want others to perceive on social media.  They announce huge successes, they show your their luxurious vacation spots, and show off their glamorous new attire.  If you look at social media as reality, you can quickly think you drew the short end of the stick.  Through increased awareness of what others are doing, FoMO flares up again.  We may feel like we all need a Caribbean cruise, or a swim with the dolphins.  Even if you can’t afford it, you buy tickets to the next great adventure and off you go.  Of course, you soon post your own pictures (or videos) and inspire someone else to follow in your tracks.

  7. Unbalanced Resources.

    As human beings living here on earth, we have limited resources.  There are only 24 hours in a day, money does not grow on trees, and we do need to sleep.  So, when we add things to our schedules, or make purchases, we drain our resource pool.  When we don’t want to miss out on the 3 parties we were invited to, we may need to leave earlier than we wanted to, be watching the time closely at each place, and bring several changes of clothes.  We may also need to purchase extra gifts draining our bank account.  Not to mention you arrive home exhausted and didn’t get to relax and enjoy the company of your friends.

Reflection Questions

  1.  Do you recognize yourself as a victim of FoMO?  If so, be sure to check out the resources below by Bloom and Jellstrom for concrete steps to help you manage better.
  2.  Is there someone in your life that is quickly going down the FoMO drain?  Consider that it might be time to have a heart-to-heart talk with them and help them regain control of their life.

Resources

Bloom, Linda & Charlie.10 ways to overcome fear of missing out. Psychologytoday.com

Herman, Dan. Understanding FoMO.

Jellstrom, Aimee K. How to manage #FOMO in 4 easy steps. Readwrite.com

Texas A&M University. (2016, March 30). FOMO: It’s your life you’re missing out on. ScienceDaily.

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Carbohydrate Confusion: How Much, What Kind, & When To Eat Them

Carbohydrate Confusion:  How Much, What Kind, & When to Eat Them

There has been so much in the news, in diet books, and from self-proclaimed experts about carbohydrate intake.  It has really become hard to know what to believe.  In today’s post, I am going to help clear the confusion about how much carbs we need to eat, what kind of are best for you, and when you should eat them.  With the New Year right about the corner, why not make eating a healthier diet one of your New Year’s goals!

carbohydratesTiBine/ Pixabay.com

How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need?

Some diets tell you to focus on eating carbs, while others tell you to avoid them.  Both approaches can be dangerous and extremes should generally be avoided.  Carbohydrates provide our bodies with glucose, which is converted and used for energy for both daily functions and exercise.  Without enough glucose, we are likely to be fatigued, have difficulty concentrating and our bodies may start breaking down muscles for energy.  On the other hand, too much carbs are likely to increase our fat storage and can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

So how much carbs should we be eating?  Although experts caution us against obsessively counting carbohydrates, it is good to have a general idea of how much we should be eating each day.   The bodybuilding.com website provides a helpful Carbohydrate Intake Calculator to get you started.  Their calculator allows you to enter age, height, weight, gender, and activity level.  Another great feature is that the calculator allows you to enter your goals to lose fat, maintain, or increase your muscle.

Are There Different Kinds of Carbohydrates?

Once you have an idea of how many grams of carbs you should be eating on a daily basis, the next thing to consider is the different types of carbohydrates available.  Not all carbs are not created equally!  To make it as easy to understand as possible, we’ll call them either healthy choices or not so healthy choices.

  • Healthy choices

  • Not-so healthy choices.

    • White bread, rice, and highly processed food.
    • Pastries, donuts, cookies, cakes etc.
    • Sodas, sweetened drinks.
Not all carbs are created equally! Click To Tweet

Several nutrition recommendations, including Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate, and the USDA’s Choose MyPlate recommend that half of the food we consume consist of vegetables and fruit.  However, they also recommend that a quarter of what we eat be whole grains.  So, it’s important to try lots of options and find some things you like.  I love fresh fruits and usually do pretty well getting enough of these.  I also love oatmeal for breakfast so that’s a good choice for me too.  It’s the vegetables that I struggle with, but we’ll focus on them another day.

Does it Matter What Time You Eat Carbs?

When do you refill the gas tank in your car?  When you’re running low on fuel, right.  We can use that same principle when it comes to when we should eat carbs.  We should eat them when we are going to need the most fuel.  Lori Zanini, a Registered Dietician, recommends eating carbs throughout the day.  This prevents your body from sensing a low blood sugar and releasing stored sugars.  Consistent carb eating patterns may help to prevent fluctuations that could lead to diabetes.

However, if you’re really trying to maximize fat loss, you may want to go even one-step further than consistency.  You may choose to focus on three specific times during the day when energy is needed most.  Those times are the first thing in the morning, pre-workout, and post-workout.  The Morellifit website staff discusses the benefits of these three times.  The morning and pre-workout times are to provide energy for the day and the intense workout.  The after-workout time is not quite as obvious.  But intense workouts deplete sugar stores in the body.  So this time is a replenishing time.

You probably noticed that no one recommended nighttime carbohydrate eating.  If you are diabetic and taking certain medications, a nighttime healthy carb snack may be recommended by your primary care provider.  But, for most people, the act of sleeping does not require extra energy.  So that’s not the time of day to eat carbs.  When they’re not used, they are much more likely to be stored away for future use, which we probably don’t want or need.

How to Set Carbohydrate Goals

Now that you know a little more about why carbs are important, how much you need, what types are the healthiest and what times of day are best to eat them, it’s time to develop a healthy carbohydrate goal and plan.  Here are a few steps to get you started.  I am also working on my own carbohydrate goal this year (2017) since this is an area I really struggle with from time to time.

  1.  For one or two days, keep a food diary and calculate how many grams of carbs you are eating.
  2.  During the same one or two days, determine what percentage of each meal/snack is carbohydrate.
  3.  Use a carbohydrate calculator to  determine your personal recommendations for daily carb intake.
  4.  Compare what you generally do with your recommendations and see how you are doing.
  5.  Set a realistic goal of where you would ultimately like to end up.
  6.  Break your master goal into tiny bite size goals that you can achieve.  Here’s an example.

Example of a Goal Plan

Recommended Carb gm -150

Actual Carb gm Intake -200

Different – 50 gms over

Master Goal – Reduce daily carb intake to recommended 150 gms.

January Month Goal – Reduce carb intake from 200 to 175 gms.

Ideas for Cutting the Not-So-Healthy Carbs

  • Discontinue soda drinking.
  • Switch from sugared creamers to reduced fat milk.
  • Stop buying bags of chips, pretzels & other carb snacks.
  • Stop nighttime snacking of carbs.
  • Reduce portion of whole grains during mealtime.

Reflection Questions

  1.  Have you looked at your daily carb intake lately?  How is it?
  2.  Are you ready to set a carbohydrate-eating goal for the coming year?
  3.  What one or two things can you start changing tomorrow that will help you meet your goal?

Resources

Bodybuilding.com Carbohydrate Recommendation Calculator

Men’s Fitness Nutrition Q&A: When Should I Eat Carbs?

Tips to Help you  Eat Whole Grains. ChooseMyPlate.gov.

The Healthy Eating Plate.  Health.harvard.edu

Top 3 Times to Consume Carbs So You Don’t Store Body Fat

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