EquitableEducation.ca

~~~~~~ Learning a better world ~~~~ with Greg Macdougall

Fifty or so local people participated in a Facilitation Training workshop starting off the “From the Ground Up” series of local community-building activities.

The workshop was delivered and facilitated by Tree Bressen, of the Fellowship for Intentional Community (web site: www.ic.org). Bressen explained the need for a facilitation workshop: “Most people’s associations with meetings are that they’re long and boring and frustrating and they waste time. I think that comes out of people not handling meetings in a skilful and effective way … as you learn how to facilitate better and how to participate better … groups can have meetings that are productive, that are upbeat, that are great, fun, and make decisions together well and come out of the meetings feeling energized and not … drained.

“But we don’t grow up learning these skills, so a lot of us actually need to learn from a workshop or a book or practice or something, because a lot of us don’t grow up in institutions that really encourage this way of relating to each other.”

Two primary areas to focus on are: 1) to help each person feel heard; 2) to find the common ground in what different people are saying, and reflect this common ground back to the group.

Workshop participants were actively involved in activities and discussion. To start the day off, everyone had to introduce themselves to the group, with some sort of gesture or movement. Right after lunch, a non-elimination form of musical chairs was played: ‘Big Wind Blows.’ The day ended with an intuition circle that left participants on a high.

This effectively illustrates one of the principles being taught on the day, that of working with the energy of the group and planning the agenda with that in mind. Another principle was the use of “choice creation” or “dynamic facilitation”, which is about going deeper and exploring one person’s passion to bring out creative, radical and positive ideas that might otherwise not be voiced. Some questions offered as examples to help draw out people’s passions are, “What’s the best-case outcome – what do things look like?”; “What would be the first step?”; “If you were in charge, what would you do?”; and “I guarantee you success, so what is it you want to do?”

The concept of consensus was covered. Consensus is a search for unity, not a vote, and is based on a common purpose, openness, democracy, fairness, honesty, simplicity, love and time.

Participants came to build together, and left with a greater understanding of facilitation and communication, and a positive charge of energy. Colan Schwartz commented, “I came here because I’m really interested in facilitation and I think that communication is really important – it’s something that as a society we need to work on a little bit more. Working collectively really helps to get problems solved much faster.” He also noted the value to “summarize what’s happened and also reword things that people have said in such a way that the group will understand and it will help work toward achieving the goal.”

Tanya Williams observed how it was important to have “those questions that will allow people to think, envision beyond getting caught up in ‘I can’t do that’ and the barriers that are in the way… try and get a sense from them of what is really important to them.”

Cory Kobbert noted, “[The workshop] gave a good framework for intuitiveness and to address people’s concerns, to understand the exceptions of people who may have opposition to you in a group. I think it is a very crucial aspect of gathering together a community … to address their special concerns if they’re in agreement with the direction that the group is going, or if they’re in disagreement, regardless. That can be met with the group … the power structure is decentralized among the group, and an individual can really have an impact.”

The Fellowship for Intentional Communities is “a non-profit that promotes cooperative living …We’re a resource organization to help people find communities, and help communities find people, and give the media accurate information about communities instead of them getting portrayed in sensationalistic ways, and we serve the academic researchers, so we’re trying to serve a pretty wide set of constituencies and we’re an umbrella organization: any group doing any kind of communal living, from co-housing to eco-villages to communes to anything is totally welcome to associate with us and get involved as long as they don’t participate in violence or coerce members to stay who want to go.”

I wrote this article over the December 2001 holidays, and it was published 4 months to the day after the September 11 attacks, in the University of Waterloo Imprint student newspaper. It’s not completely comprehensive, and there’s been a lot more research and hypothesizing in the time since, but I think it provides some food for thought – basically raising some troubling questions. For some more discussion on the topic — including on the ‘psychology of belief’– please see Eric Francis’ podcast at PlanetWaves.net

 

The World Trade Center was taken down on September 11. That much is for sure. But start talking about who did it, and you might be on shaky ground.

Apparently, we are told, there is evidence against the Al-Qaeda terrorism network, including Osama bin Laden. To date, the most compelling evidence is a self-incriminating videotape of bin Laden; yet, in an age where movies like The Lord of the Rings can be made, seeing should not necessarily mean believing.

There are many troubling questions that surround the September 11 attacks. Given that “U.S. military leaders proposed in 1962 a secret plan to commit terrorist acts against Americans and blame Cuba to create a pretext for invasion and the ouster of Communist leader Fidel Castro” [Baltimore Sun, April 24 2001], the possibility of U.S. government, military, intelligence complicity in the attacks should not be discounted.

However, we have others who tell us not to think about the possibility. Speaking to the United Nations general assembly, George Bush said, “We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th, malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty.”

Yet others are not so sure. In the first footnote to his presentation “Why there is a war in Afghanistan,” delivered at a teach-in/forum in Toronto on December 9 and sponsored by Science for Peace, University of Guelph professor John McMurtry stated, “With any such hypothesis, one looks not only for the evidence confirming it, but more conscientiously, for the evidence disconfirming it.

“The evidence confirming U.S. and allied security awareness of and possible complicity in the 9/11 attack is considerable, but I have found no evidence disconfirming it,” he said.

Let’s look at some of the questions that have been raised.

Foreknowledge

There are many reports that the surprise attacks were not really a surprise to the various U.S. government agencies — the CIA, the FBI, the military. The fact that, with all the resources they possess, these agencies were unable to do anything to prevent an attack by people they were already closely monitoring, is as surprising as the attacks themselves.

“The governments of at least four countries — Russia, Germany, Israel and Egypt — gave Washington specific warnings of terrorist attacks in the United States involving the use of hijacked airplanes as weapons, in the months leading up to September 11.” That from a January 5th article posted on the World Socialist Web site (www.wswj.org).

Former U.S. Special Forces master sergeant Stan Goff, in an essay posted on www.narconews.com, writes, “As a former military person who’s been involved in the development of countless operations orders over the years, I can tell you that this was a very sophisticated and costly enterprise that would have left what we call a huge ‘signature.’ In other words, it would be very hard to effectively conceal. So there’s a real question about why there was no warning of this.”

Yet, despite all that, the terrorists were still able to organize, plan and successfully carry out these attacks. Even once they had successfully hijacked the planes, there was still an opportunity for the attacks to have been averted …

Events the morning of . . .

One question that has been raised is why no military planes were scrambled to intercept any of the planes once it had been determined that hijackings were taking place. One allegation being made is that orders from high up were given to stand down — to not follow the standard procedures for dealing with hijacked aircraft — which would have included sending up aircraft. Particularily troubling is how the third plane that crashed into the Pentagon was allowed to fly unimpeded towards Washington and the Pentagon for a half-hour after the second plane had crashed into the WTC.

Questions also exist as to whether Ghost Hawk remote control flying technology could have been used to take over control of the planes, and as to whether the fourth plane crashed, or was shot down by a mysterious white plane (see www.flight93crash.com). So far, none of the black box recordings have been released.

Investigations hindered

The hope would be that the people investigating the events of September 11 would be able to get to the bottom of everything. That may not happen.

“This is almost the dream team of engineers in the country working on [the investigation of the WTC collapse], and our hands are tied,” said one team member who asked not to be identified. Members have been threatened with dismissal for speaking to the press. “FEMA is controlling everything,” the team member said. (NY Times; December 25 2001)

The editor of Fire Engineering, a 125-year-old monthly firefighting magazine, has called for a “full-throttle, fully resourced” investigation instead of the current “half-baked farce.” (NY Daily News; January 4 2002).

The National Security Agency has been destroying evidence since September 11. “Some Central Intelligence Agency analysts and staff members of the House and Senate intelligence committees fear that important information that could aid in the investigation, and perhaps even redirect it, is being lost in the process.” (Washington Globe; October 27 2001).

An investigation into insider-trading activities on airline stocks prior to the attacks has led to a bank in Germany with connections to the CIA (www.copvcia.com).

A November 6, 2001 report on BBC TV’s Newsnight detailed how some investigations into terrorist connections were being covered up by US authorities.

Why?

One of the first thing any detective does is consider the criminal’s motive. The U.S. administration, military or intelligence community has enjoyed many benefits since the terrorist attacks.

U.S. interests wanted to install an oil pipeline through Afghanistan to access oil reserves in the former Soviet states, said to be potentially the richest reserves in the world. The U.S. had pre-existing plans to invade Afghanistan in mid-October, according to former Pakistan foreign secretary Niaz Naik. In fact, it would have been nearly impossible to plan for such an invasion in the short time between September 11 and October 7 (according to Stan Goff).

As well, the attacks gave new-found legitimacy to an unelected president and consolidated power in the hands of his administration and the military and intelligence communities. The huge profits to be made off of the “War on Terrorism” lead back to American interests. Laws have been passed and civil rights stripped away; the people have lost, and the powerful have gained.

There is not enough space here to cover all the questions that are left unanswered. Further research can be done online; some sites to visit include www.rense.com, www.counterpunch.org, davesweb.cnhost.com.

by Greg Macdougall – Sept 21, 2001 | University of Waterloo Imprint (page 10)

It seems like we’re at war now. But I think we can still change that.

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Besides some war in some far off place, there’s already been some serious shit going down here. Racism and violence against Muslims and other ‘Middle-Eastern-type’ peoples is happening. It’s not isolated incidents. It’s everywhere. Two shooting deaths this past weekend in the States are the most extreme tip of the iceberg.

Incidents have been reported at this university. Yeah, that’s right, right here. So, I’ma bit disappointed right now – about a lot of things, but very much so about the way some people are racist. Not that that is anything new, though.

Another thing that I’m very disappointed about is how the media is racist. Not that that’s anything new either. But just the way that all the papers and TV stations splashed pictures of Palestinians celebrating the terrorist attacks, but didn’t have anything to say about those who may not have been celebrating, and were instead mourning.

Also, the way that they condemn any anti-Muslim backlash when they are in fact doing so much to fuel it. The way that the Record published a big story on how a local synagogue (Jewish) hired police for protection, yet only put four paragraphs in about how a Guelph mosque (Muslim) was attacked by racists who spray-painted “killers” and “go home” in foot-high letters on the door. This was buried at the end of a story on an area man from Afghanistan who is scared for family that he has living in that country.

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m also disappointed with the mainstream and corporate media, not that there’s anything new there either. They’re pretty much promoting that we go to war. They’re preparing us for it – Tuesday’s Record headline was a quote from Bush, “There will be costs.” Wednesday’s Record screams, “Bracing for Holy War,” like it’s the Afghanistanians who are the ones starting this war – like they’ve got any choice at all. I could keep going but it would probably take me more space than I’ve got.

The media features way too many. government officials and military. types, and way too few people who might be opposing war. The interview I did with PACS director Lowell Ewert, who doesn’t like violence, is an anomoly in the sea of voices screaming for blood.

If you want some historical reference, check out the type of propaganda that passed for news back during the Vietnam war. We’re living through another period of that type of shit being fed down our throats. It’s pretty hard to evade it, it’s everywhere.

If you think there’s nothing wrong with the media coverage of this stuff, then – nothing personal – I think you’re smoking crack.

“Never indeed is hatred stilled by hatred; it will only be stilled by non-hatred-this isan eternal law.”
-Buddha

But it ain’t all bad. There’s alternatives to all the hype – the Independent Media Centre here in K-W has put out a special two-page edition of the paper, Blind Spot, to promote peace. You can get it off the Web at ontario.indymedia.org article #1821, or click on the K-W Blind Spot link.

“If they make us all panic then they can start martial law.”
-Dead Prez

Peace and conflict professor calls for words, not war
by Greg Macdougall
September 21 2001 – University of Waterloo Imprint student newspaper

Since last Tuesday, there’s been a lot said about what the terrorist attacks mean and where we go from here. Unfortunately, most of it seems to call for a solution involving military action.

Do more innocent civilians need to be killed? Many seem to think so, but not Lowell Ewert, director of the Peace and Conflict Studies program and the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel College. He thinks there may be a better way to deal with the attacks, and he cautiously admits that something positive may come out of this mess.

As the American government declares war on terrorism, Ewert sees “the need for the world community to come together and define this thing called terrorism and agree that its wrong.” But, that’s easier said than done: “I think that’s going to be a more difficult process than George Bush or anyone else thinks at this time because I don’t think there’s a real agreement on what terrorism is.

“As someone said, this is a problem that only the world community collectively can solve; it’s not something that one individual nation can solve. I applaud that.”

Ewert suggests there’s a silver lining in the horrible acts committed last Tuesday. “I mean, there are a lot of people talking to each other about this topic now who weren’t talking two weeks ago and I think that’s very positive.

“I think that first and foremost it needs to be defined as a criminal act. As I heard someone say, defining it as an act of war gives it a certain legitimacy that it doesn’t deserve. It’s a criminal act and it should be treated in that way.”

Ewert sees value in looking “to listen to victims’ groups about how they define it, to listen to government officials, to listen to those who are involved in trying to prevent it, to really consult widely.

“To push the learning, the knowledge, the debate and dialogue on that issue is important,” he says.

“I think that civil society can play a very important role in defining terrorism and clarifying for world political leaders that it is not an acceptable political act. So I think we can really get involved in creating a political movement that limits the practice of terrorism.”

How can we limit terrorism? “If you create an international consensus against it, you’re going to make it a lot more difficult for people to find the human resources, the financial resources and the physical resources. I think it starts drying up the pond in which this kind of movement can flourish.”

Ewert suggests that healing for the victims of terrorist acts can be found by bringing them together. “You look at groups of victims who have been subjected to some horrible reprisals internationally — Latin America and other places in the world where there have been a whole bunch of civilian victims — to get them talking to each other and with the people in New York, to talk about their common humanity, their common anger at being victimized and their common fear at being targeted. I think building those kinds of connections between victim groups around the world would be a very valuable part of both healing and solidifying world opinion against terrorism.”

But how can we deal with this horrific act of terrorism committed against the targets in the United States? “From the peace and conflict perspective we believe, and I believe, that another cycle of violence won’t work. I think further research on looking at whether violence, and indiscriminate violence, actually promotes peace. I don’t think it does.

“I think the peace community could, and it hasn’t yet, but it could help the world understand that there are very effective ways non-violently to respond to these horrendous acts, and that blind military striking out may not be the answer.

“I think there’s a legitimate role that police forces play, and I think the distinction that’s typically made is between legitimate policing functions and military. Military forces are subject to political control and they are usually sent for political purposes whereas a civilian police force or a police force is more subject to the rule of law. I think there’s a profound difference.

“Some of the rhetoric seems to say that a military response alone is going to be the solution. Violence typically doesn’t work. Violence typically creates the fertile ground for very, very angry and bitter people to come along and commit other acts. I’m a little concerned that the talk of revenge and retaliation will, if history is a guide here, create more people who have an axe to grind with one or more of the parties and it will not result in a peaceful and just solution for all. So that kind of revenge and retaliatory language is something that I think is misguided.

“There’s been some pretty scary articles that I’ve read basically saying ‘strike back and if a lot of civilians are killed that’s too bad; it’s regrettable but it’s okay.’ That kind of thinking really is frightening to me because it assumes that violence will work.

“Some would justify harming other civilians because of what happened in New York. I just don’t think that’s appropriate. Civilians are to be protected. When people deliberately target civilians, I think we draw the line. We do draw the line, I don’t [just] think that. You don’t target civilians.”

by Greg Macdougall – Sept 14, 2001 | University of Waterloo Imprint (page 12)

You can call it the most terrible thing that has ever happened; you can call it pure evil; you can call it karma.

What goes around comes around, some people say. And on 09/11, the big bully on the playground, the U.S., got sacked in the nuts. The question now is how will they react?

Yes, there’s also a lot to deal with coming to terms with what happened: the horror, the sadness, the fear, the anger. How can you deal with all that?

The easy way is to hit back, hard, and that’s what people seem to want: ‘Kill the bastards!’ As horrible as Tuesday was, I’m more scared of what’s to come. Not from more terrorist attacks -contrary to a lot of people, I don’t feel any less safe today than before the attacks – but from the devastation and horror that people’s reactions could unleash on the world.

I think that the only way a good reaction can come is if we’ve dealt with the emotions that come from this, which is very different from acting on those emotions. And if we’ve made an effort to understand what happened and why. When I see Bush talking of America’s “quiet, unyielding anger” and how the attacks “cannot dent the steel of American resolve,” I feel more sick than I did watching a person free falling from one of the towers.

As we condemn the terrorists to hell, are we going to follow them? Is the current president the man to take the high road, or is he going to lead us on a downward spiral of violence begetting violence?

I’ve heard this attack being likened to Pearl Harbour, but I haven’t heard anyone mentioning what the States’ reaction to that attack was -two atomic bombs dropped on another country, killing how many more people and contributing how much more senseless violence?

Bush claimed that “America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world.” He seems to have missed the fact that, for many, America symbolizes the exact opposite: the repression of freedom. By attacking the crowning symbol of America’s capitalistic might and the heart of America’s military might, a very clear message was being sent.

The personal hatred I hold for American imperialism and militarism gave way to many mixed feelings in witnessing what went on. The hatred that we all hold in our hearts, directed wherever it may be, means that we cannot outright condemn others, ‘foreigners,’ and hold ourselves to be above them. We cannot fall into the trap of thinking that we are good and they are bad. Only by recognizing our own shadow, as Carl Jung called it, can we hope to come to some resolution.

The American shadow is a dark one. For example, they originally backed Osama bin Laden, who they and the media now portray as the face of evil incarnate (without anyone having a clue as to who did all this). Twenty years ago, the United States was training bin Laden and supplying him with arms in his terrorist fight against the Soviets.

The hypocritical nature of the rhetoric spouting from Bush’s mouth, and coming from all the journalists, editors, and opinion columnists creating hatred and hysteria in people’s minds, makes me as sick as the actual act itself.

I also note how ‘good’ this is to Bush and his presidency in so many ways. Everyone is united behind him; all the bad things he has done are gone from people’s minds. As has been noted many times before, a war is sometimes the best medicine for an ailing leader.

However, I hold out some hope that maybe some good will come of this. Maybe this will be a big enough of a shock to people that they change the way they view their lives, the way they relate to other people, the way they live their lives. This is a chance for us to stop ignoring the hatred that is endemic in the world, and to instead acknowledge it while at the same time looking to let love overcome it.

I was once told that all action comes either from love or from fear. I have to ask, where does revenge fit in there?

For more analysis, visit www.zmag.org

by Greg Macdougall, published March 16 2001 in U.Waterloo Imprint student newspaper

So, you made your New Year’s resolution two-and-a-half months ago. You wanted to take some of those extra pounds off. Or maybe you wanted to have more energy and just feel better. You knew that it ultimately came down to the food you put into your mouth. But, for whatever reason, your resolution faded as fast as the hangover from New Year’s Eve (or maybe a bit quicker).

If so, you’re probably a bit down on yourself. Why couldn’t you stick with that new diet? Didn’t you have the willpower to make a positive change in your life? Couldn’t you control what you ate? What’s so hard about laying off the grease and going with the greens?

If you’re thinking like that, well, there are a couple things to say. First off, you aren’t alone. Second, don’t be so hard on yourself — eating well requires specific skills that you might still need to learn, practise and develop. And it’s pretty hard to do on your own.

Health Services to the rescue. For four weeks, Linda Barton, nutritionist, Linda Brogden, nurse, and Kathy Winters, psychologist, jointly presented a series of seminars on eating for Energy. Here’s some of the stuff that was talked about.

The seminars covered a number of aspects involved in developing healthy and consistent eating behaviour.

Nutritionally, areas of focus included balance at all meals and snacks (protein, grains, fruits and veggies) as well as timing, fibre, and snacks.

Other important areas were understanding the process of change, setting goals, and dealing with and managing stress.

The first seminar started off with a vision: “Imagine you’ve never heard the word diet.” Profound words that have a profound impact. No diets. Ever. Just imagine.

The point was, your approach to eating should not be a diet, because diets don’t work.

Restricting your food intake, restricting what you can and can’t eat, becoming obsessive about what you eat, it doesn’t work.

Instead, choose choice over control. There are no bad foods. There are good foods however. And good food combinations.

It all comes down to timing your eating. The way each person metabolises their food is different, and as you reach and pass the age of 30, metabolism starts to slow down (about two per cent per decade). However, metabolism depends on genetics, physical activity and eating habits/patterns.

The key is to eat every three to four hours. That way your body has a constant, consistent stream of incoming fuel to use. That means that skipping breakfast, or lunch, or both, isn’t a great idea.

And every time you eat, make sure you’re taking in the right type of fuels. Follow the ‘1-2-3 Energy’ strategy to ensure that you’re doing a good job.

Eating in balance means eating fruits or vegetables, eating grains, and eating protein every time you sit down to eat.

The 1-2-3 strategy represents the energy burst each food gives you — one hour from fruits or vegetables, two hours worth from grains, and three hours from protein. And then it’s time to eat again.

So, in order to keep eating so often, you’ve got to know what to eat in between meals. Snacks, or, in better words, ‘mini-meals.’ Remember, balance — 1-2-3.

The hardest of the three to get is protein. Fruits and vegetables? You might not always choose them, but they’re there. Grains? Everywhere you look. But protein?

Some choices are milk products — yogurt, milk (yes, even chocolate milk), and cheese are all good protein sources.

Meat is a possibility (not for everyone though), but it doesn’t always make the best snack.

Nuts and seeds are good choices, including peanut and other nut butters, but this group can be high in fat.

Vegetable sources of protein include soy beans, lentils, and other such things. Eggs are also a good source of protein.

For snacks, think easy and quick. Granola bars? Problem is, there isn’t any protein. Go for the Power Bar type that offer the right balance.

Another quick snack solution that was provided was a power shake.

Quick and easy is good for regular meals too. To save time, one idea is to cook large amounts of a dish, so that you can freeze and then re-heat the leftovers without spending all the time to cook it from scratch.

As well, spending one cooking evening a week to prepare multiple meals for the week, and then freezing them for later use, can concentrate the time spent in kitchen.

The seminar delivered many strategies that are helpful in dealing with possible roadblocks on your way to better eating habits.

One of these roadblocks can be too much stress. Behaviours, thoughts and feelings are the three components that combine to create stress.

Through the seminars the approach was to look at the actions and thoughts, with the idea that these will lead the feelings.

The two keys to creating positive thoughts were to develop a positive attitude and to work on relaxation techniques.

Become aware of your internal thinking. What messages do you unconciously send yourself? Are they self-defeating? If so, get control over them.

If you notice yourself in negative thinking patterns, ‘thought stop’ — stop the thinking, calm yourself, and switch to a more positive thought. Instead of self-defeating thoughts, think self-encouragingly.

To relax, the participants were taken through some breathing exercises to learn to breath from the diaphragm. Try it right now.

Sit comfortably in a quiet location. Breathe in and think ‘calm.’ Breathe out and think ‘relax.’ Breathe smoothly at your normal pace and depth. Repeat to become more calm and relaxed.

Now place one hand on your chest and one on your diaphragm (just above the belly button). You want to breathe from your diaphragm, so hopefully that hand is moving and your chest hand isn’t as much. If not, then you’re likely breathing shallowly.

Managing stress was just one of the many skills learned through these seminars. Acquiring new skills is essential if you want to improve your eating. So is the desire to change.

Ask yourself these two questions that were posed to the seminar participants. “How important is it to me?” and “How will it make me feel afterwards?”

If it is important, and it will make a difference, what’s holding you back?

By popular request, Health Services is hosting another nutrition/lifestyle seminar this Wednesday, March 21. It will run from 4:30 to 6:30 in the new meeting room at Health Services. All students are welcome. the event is free, and there will be complimentary refreshments available.

SIDEBAR: Setting SMART Goals

To accomplish things, setting goals is an invaluable skill. Goals help to focus and motivate, as well as something to strive for and a way to measure success (or lack thereof). So, set goals and don’t fear failure, just see success.

Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time related. Together, these five concepts can be labelled SMART goals.

For example, when setting your goals, first decide in what area you would like to set a goal. Would you like to work on eating a variety of different foods every day? Or maybe you need to work on planning your meals out better.

Once you’ve decided what area your goal is in, decide what stage you’re at, and what type of goal you’re looking at. Do you need to know more first? Or are you ready to make some change in behaviour? Is there some hurdle that is setting you back that you need to clear?

Say you’ve come to the conclusion you’re at the action stage and are looking to have better eating patterns throughout the day. “I will have breakfast by 8:30 at least two times this week,” is a SMART goal.

It is specific, as opposed to, “I’m going to start eating breakfast.” It is measurable — two times this week.

It is action oriented, as opposed to feeling oriented (it’s not, “I’m going to like eating breakfast”).

It is realistic, whereas, “I will eat breakfast every day this week,” might not be if you haven’t been in the habit of eating breakfast at all previously.

And it is time related — before 8:30 in the morning.

Set SMART goals and you’re setting yourself up for success.

An in-depth interview with UWaterloo nutritional consultant Linda Barton.

By Greg Macdougall, published Nov.24 2000 in the UW Imprint student newspaper.

At this University there’s a lot of choice offered in terms of what you can eat. The thing is, it ultimately comes down to what you select — the choice you make. Food services can provide the healthiest food possible for you, but if you choose to grab a donut and coffee from Tim Horton’s every morning for breakfast . . . well, its your choice.

One person who’s had a role in ensuring that healthy choices are available to you is Linda Barton. In her position as consulting dietician with the school, Barton sees one of her goals as raising students’ awareness and education regarding the food they’re using as their body’s building blocks.

“Because actually, I think people aren’t thinking at all about what they’re eating . . . and something so important as the fuel you’re putting in your body, you don’t even think about it? It’s on the shelf because some company wanted to make money, and you’re eating it? . . . like, just wake up. Whatever choice suits you, but make a choice.”

“It’s really my job to provide information to you that’s accurate, teach you how to get more, and encourage you to think about what your choice is — what your choice is. I don’t like telling people that meat is no good, or milk is better than soy. I don’t like to tell people that. I like to tell them the facts about milk, the facts about soy, and encourage them to make a choice.”

Barton’s role at the university is two-fold: helping students to make educated nutritional decisions, and doing nutritional consulting and seminar work with various departments of the University — Food Services, Health Services, Residence Life, and Athletics.

She sits on the Food Advisory Board, a committee that meets every two weeks to deal with issues around food planning and delivery through Food Services, “but Health Services pays for my seat there . . . I think its a nice way to be in the meeting with Food Services.”

She is involved in the planning done to determine what foods are offered by Food Services, as well as getting the message out to students. She has been part of the behind-the-scenes work over the past few years in making changes to the food available to students on campus.

“Food Services, I still think, does not do a good job marketing their product to campus . . . There’ve been changes, so it’s too bad people don’t know more about it.” One change she identifies is the introduction of good vegetarian selections provided by Commensal, a company that also provides food for some five-star vegetarian restaurants in Montreal and Toronto. But she also feels that the vegetarian choices are often bypassed by students, “cause they look at it and think, what’s in that — they’re suspect.”

There’ve been a lot of changes over the past few years and they’ve been well received by students. Barton receives feedback through comment cards and at the seminars she presents:“it used to be very negative material — you’re doing this wrong, we hate this — but now it’s good material . . .the students were really upset , they didn’t like the poor choice . . . now I am not hearing any of that.”

By popular request, Barton is currently working on a nutritional information project to let students know the nutrient composition of the food they eat. Individual food fact cards are being introduced to replace the existing nutritional brochures which contains information on a wide selection of menu items.

One concern Barton has is the lack of fibre in students’ diets — “I see that there’s too little fibre in the cafeteria food and this is a common fact — many young people are not eating enough fibre — it’s not a UW fact . . . but I’d like to see UW do an excellent job of providing students with choices with more fibre.”

But the onus is not only on Food Services. “It’s to do with the fact that students want high fat food. That’s what they want, that’s what they were programmed to eat.”

Other primary messages that Barton is trying to find some space in students’ heads for, include following the 1-2-3 Energy strategy, getting the timing right on eating, and including snacks (“mini-meals”) into daily eating patterns.

1-2-3 Energy is a simplified way of remembering to eat a balanced meal. One, for vegetables and fruit, which provide about an hours worth of energy. Two, for grains, that deliver two hours worth. Three, for protein, energy which will last three hours.

The idea is, every time you eat, eat for energy and include each of the three foods in your meal / snack to keep you going until your next nourishment.

This relates to Barton’s second emphasis, getting your timing right. Try for every three or four hours. “Extremely hungry people binge.” Instead, you “should be looking looking for consistent behaviour patterns.”

The third message, eating snacks (or “mini-meals), also ties in. Limiting yourself to three meals a day is not compatible with eating every three to four hours. So plan to have a couple of balanced mini-meals (1-2-3) along with your regular meals. Barton offers a couple of suggestions of stand-alone foods that “offer your body basically the right nutrient balance,” such as yogurt.

Along with her duties at the university, Barton operates her own private practice, located beside the Swiss Chalet on Weber. Her rates are $85 per visit for the general public, but offers a student rate of $60. UW students have another option available to them: “Health services does offer nutrition consults with the nurses that I work with, so there’s Linda Brogdan and Sheila Wilson, and you can go in and do a nutritional consult …. they have all these resources, we’ve set them all up over the years, so that they can take a student through a very nice look at their eating habits — because I cost money and not everybody wants to pay sixty bucks (student fee) to talk to me.”

Next week, we’ll look at some of the issues that she deals with in her practice.

PART 2: Changing Your Life

Last week, we ran a feature on UW’s nutrition education consultant, Linda Barton, and the messages she’s trying to get across to students. Well, we’re not done yet.

Barton’s private practice is located across a parking lot from the Swiss Chalet on Weber Street. Most of her clients are active people — athletes. She has worked with teams from both UW and Laurier, among others; however, it’s not only athletes as defined by their participation in competitive organized sports: “Someone who’s made a daily commitment to activity, some of the fitness people, the people that swim, the people who join walking groups, to me they’re athletes.

“I deal with people that want to improve. They probably have had some trouble, although a good third of my clients come just to get better, there’s nothing wrong with them. They just see this as a tool that they can use in their daily living to improve their well-being. The other crowd, though, have experienced some kind of issue with food — it’s stopped working really well for them. There’s different reasons they would come, just from an energy reason up to a full-blown eating disorder, so my message is not the same for each client.

Some people will come to her saying, “I am just having a rotten time — I am not eating well, I’m not sleeping well — could you help me out?” Others are having more serious issues with food and eating, such as the “athlete that’s starving because they’re a cross-country runner and they’ve just been eating carbs for so long and they just go ‘off the wagon,’ as they tell me, and they don’t binge on protein, they binge on sugar.

“Women and jujubes — it’s a really big deal. And then they’re upset because they wish that hadn’t happened . . . all that negative energy.”

Barton describes what they’ll be working towards with her help: “There’s a kind of satisfaction and pleasant energy that comes from eating well. Some people have never experienced it and some people greatly miss it, but they can’t put their finger on what’s different.”

Trying to change the way you eat is an attempt to change your life. Change is often hard, but is often worth it. Barton recommends potential clients call around before choosing her to help them. “This is a really personal relationship when you start wanting to change your life. You should find somebody that you connect with. It might not be me. If it’s not me, don’t come in here to find out it’s not me. Talk to me on the phone.”

“Between the two of us, we put together a pattern of living that works for them. We’re going to look at stress, we’re going to look at sleep, now, I don’t deal specifically with those areas, but we look at them.”

To bring about change in an individual’s eating patterns, Barton has found success in three main principles. “This is my idea, born of my years witnessing people changing. When I look back on my practice I came up with these three tips — [people] change if they eat in balance, they change if they eat every three to four hours, and if they pay serious attention to snacks — I like to call this a mini-meal.”

Barton’s strategy for dealing with a person’s compulsive eating problem is not the same as some other food practitioners might recommend: “I do not think everything in moderation works for everybody. If you have a known binge food, in my practice I would ask you to stay away from that binge food for a period of time. Definitely I don’t think a compulsive eater can have everything in moderation.

“If I have someone who’s truly a compulsive eater, as they define themselves — they know — I’m not going to waste their time on something I have learned is not going to create a result for them.

“I go back to some of these basic principles of retrain your eating behaviour. I really get upset when a person who has a real serious issue goes to a dietician and is told, they should be able to control themselves. There are some people that need specific skills and they haven’t learned them yet. They need help with that, so instead of control, I talk about choice, because most people I work with are not going to learn that, or they already would have.”

Another approach that Barton does not agree with is that used by some physicians dealing with an overweight individual. “They believe that this population must lose weight quickly to feel good about themselves. I totally tackle that. I do not like it.”

Barton describes diets such as the Zone and the Atkins diet as being “on the right track,” because they do look to include protein and fat in each meal, which is important, but feels the insufficient amount of carbohydrates is where they fail.

“The thing about the Zone for active people is that the carbohydrate intake is far too low. It causes damage. People get hungry, they get off track, they lose body weight, and other things happen that are more serious — your body changes, the way you metabolize food changes.

“I’m a R.D. [registered dietician], which means I’m a member of the College of Dieticians of Ontario, and I’m a legislated health professional. I have to follow certain practice standards. I cannot recommend a meal plan like that and keep my credential.”

Keep in mind that the “message is not the same for each client.” A visit with Linda Barton, or another dietician, is an individualized thing. What is covered in the session is dependent on you and what you bring in.

Health Services nurses Linda Brogden and Sheila Wilson, while not offering all that Barton does, are both able to take a “very nice look at [your] eating habits.”

“When a student does come into see me, if they’ve gone through that route, then one appointment with me is often enough, because they can go back to the nurse. The nurses have given them all the basic information, what I do is the very specific work of looking at their fuel plan. But all the healthy eating stuff, that’s not really my work. My work is the harder part — to get you to do it.”