Started the day at the office, Starbucks by the window where the drive-thru is. Only in the Peachtree City Bubble would you see a golf cart ordering at the drive-thru.
My lesson and assignment for today was with regards Culture.
A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.
Ironically, my culture would be much the same as the example given in the Lesson.
- I was born in Florida. Spanish family where parents and grandparents spoke English and Spanish fluently. Raised around it and taking couple years of Spanish in high school, I only know some words and am hard pressed to put a sentence together in Spanish.
- Close with my big extended family, most of whom live within 20-30 miles from each other in Florida. And, more importantly they still do. Only me and one sister live outside of Florida, in Georgia.
- Grew up around mi’ Abuelo & Abuela where them and my grand aunt & uncle were neighbors. The backyard fencing enclosed both properties with no fencing in between . . . sharing the backyards.
- Raised with family gatherings and picnics, me and my 7 siblings know big family gatherings. The running joke with us kids, “it was a party” whenever we 8 plus my parents showed up somewhere.
- Our rural connection was based on hanging out and eating. Traditional foods brought our family together to share and swap heirloom dishes and memories, as well as celebrate our cultural heritage.
- Growing up we were always involved in Sports and it became a way of life for me. Therefore, I’ve always been into fitness and more recently nutrition.
- However, the more I study and learn to be an awesome Nutrition Coach, the more I realize that my worlds are divided.
- For one thing, when I look at “healthy eating” guidelines, I don’t see much of my family’s foods represented very often. I’m pretty sure only one other person in my family would know what to do with Zoodles, vegetarian style clean eating, quinoa, whole wheat macaroni, almond or coconut milk, or tofu.
- Other than beans and lentils, not much food in common. Growing up there was a lot of bread, processed food, saturated fats, fried food, and sweets. We ate fruit but veggies were not a staple in our diet.
- No protein powder or healthy smoothies existed when I was growing up.
- The idea of eating cold, plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli out of a Tupperware container or a healthy salad from a bag, makes no sense to my family or most our friends.
- I don’t stick to strict clean, non-processed food. I don’t have strict rules or restrict any foods that I occasionally crave. I would guess my percentage is 70% healthy and 30% sweets or unhealthy food or drink. My goal to be 80/20 like recommended by PN.
- When you look at my nutrition and fitness buddies, they’re all in pretty good shape, with a clean bill of health. They’re young, relatively lean, work out daily, and have stellar bloodwork. In fact, they bond by exercising together and talking about nutrition and eating healthy “weird, strange or hard to pronounce” food or substitutions for dairy or artificial sweeteners.
- Most my family and relatives have lived long lives but when I look at them, well… they have suffered and are suffering from obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid and other chronic diseases of metabolic dysfunction.
- My mom and dad both juggled a couple of full-time, middle-waged jobs, which left them pretty time-crunched, tired, and stressed.
- And my parents, family and friends think my fit friends look kind of weird.Paraphrasing what Mom would say, “Those girls are all too skinny or muscular. They don’t eat right and they don’t know how to cook; and they get all their food from that hippie store.”This is pretty accurate for what Dad would say, ”Women should have more meat on them. And the boys you’re friends with — whoever heard of men caring so much about their — what is that? — abdominal muscles?! (The tone he uses to say “abdominal muscles” is sort of like the somewhat digusted tone he would use for “ear hair”.)
- All in all, familiar foods — including cultural bonding through food & eating and cultural identity — as “fit person” vs. “Hispanic American”.
What is “culture”?
One of the easiest ways to express culture is that it’s a shared way of thinking, feeling, and doing things.
This could be things like:
- ethnic or regional cultures — such as being Basque, Appalachian, or Yoruba cultures of representation and expression — such as Internet memes, language, fashion, etc.
- occupational, industry, or workplace organizational cultures — such as a hospital culture, a backstage culture, or (of course) a nutrition industry culture subcultures or special interest groups — such as model train aficionados, tattoo artists, or bodybuilding/physique athletes
Fitness Coaches believe that culture is another major factor in shaping individualized, next action steps, and nutrition strategy.
Culture makes (our unique) world go round
Culture makes stuff make sense to us.
If you’re a grownup, living in “grownup world”, your teenager seems completely illogical. (Why do they have to listen to that racket so loud?! So many curse words!)
But if you’re living in “teenager culture”, your world — with its own language, cultural representation, and modes of self-expression — makes total sense to you.
This may seem obvious. But because we’re marinating in our own culture, we forget how much it can shape our ideas, viewpoints, assumptions, and perspectives.
Culture shapes our core beliefs, values, and priorities. Culture tells us how things work. How they ought to work. And what we should do about all of that.
This brings us to nutrition coaching
Because coaching is all about values and priorities, correct?
We need to be aware of my cultural and your own cultural standpoints. Or else, we may find ourselves butting up against potentially challenging, awkward, and/or hilariously miscommunicative cultural divides.
When worlds collide
So let’s think about some cultural divides you may be facing in your own life.
This could include:
- Languages — either actual (as in English or Spanish) or figurative (in terms of the stuff you talk about, and the way you talk about it).
- Social expectations — what you, on average, should care about and how you should behave socially.
- Daily routines — how much time you have and how you spend it.
- Socioeconomic concerns — what disposable income you have available, and what seems like a good way to spend it.
- Familiar foods — including cultural bonding through food and eating.
- Cultural identity — lifestyl;e race; gender; i.e. “fit person” or “Hispanic American” or “female”, etc.
As a nutrition coach, we research how to speak across these cultural divides.
How best to be understood.
Where is the common ground?
How would we help clients accommodate their family and their unique needs?
What creative solutions could we devise to balance food and family traditions with clients’ nutritional knowledge?
If my parents or family were my nutrition clients, I would work to make nutritional knowledge simple, intelligible and meaningful to them.
It is important to give all clients the tools they need to create meaningful next action steps.
Putting it all together
It is known in the industry that clients might need individualization for their next action steps and nutrition strategies.
There are many more factors, of course. While not exhaustively cataloguing every single way in which clients could differ, it’s important for you to get the general idea:
Balance individualization with common themes.
- Most of the same rules still apply. Good nutrition is still good nutrition.
- It’s not one-size-fits-all.
- Clients are different.
- Bodies are different.
- Life experiences and perspectives are different.
Fitness coaches are prepared to:
- challenge themselves and work across boundaries.
- coach people like you, and not like you.
- listen and learn.
- nourish and grow coaching practice with some cross-fertilization.
And ultimately, as a result, to become a kickass coaching ninja.
Until next time, please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.