Things I've Learned From My Granddaughter

The Long Tail

As parents we try to teach and train our children -- and my granddaughter is doing an admirable job of that with hers -- but we certainly can't focus our attention on that process constantly. We have other tasks to attend to as well. We live out our lives balancing our children's needs with our own, while factoring in the demands of our jobs, commitments to our churches or other organizations, and maintaining our relationships with our friends and extended families.

Yet children are learning constantly. I am amazed at the things that my granddaughter tells me she learned from me. A few were lessons that I deliberately set out to teach, but most were things she learned from watching how I lived and how I dealt with problems. She also tells me about things she learned from her mother that her mother attributes to my teaching or my example.

These conversations with my granddaughter sometimes reveal the failures and weaknesses of my past parenting and yet also reveal great successes that I had no knowledge of: valuable lessons taught without the teacher knowing it.

Diet Numerology

I've lost quite a bit of weight over the past months, and learned during this visit with my granddaughter that she too has reduced her weight substantially recently. We've spent some time talking about what has worked for us individually and what hasn't. We've followed different paths to achieve the progress we have so far, but there are plenty of common elements.

I was frustrated that I hadn't stuck very closely to my eating plan one day, and surprised the next day that the results on the scale were hardly noticeable. She reminded me of her nutritionist's advice to her that the 80/20 rule is helpful here. As long as you stick closely to your plan 80% of the time, the occasional deviations from the plan will not result in disaster. I was familiar with the [Pareto Principle] from my management training decades ago, and behold! when I looked there is indeed a diet plan (actually, several of them) referred as a Pareto diet, which features essentially the same advice.

[Pareto Principle]

Most weight reduction plans involve counting or numbers in various ways, whether it is measuring food portions, counting calories, eating only during certain times of the day, or tracking various nutritional components. Although the 80/20 rule is obviously numeric, in this context it is really about flexibility rather than bookkeeping.

My own success has come from a simple plan I devised where I record how much food I eat each day, weighing each item that goes on my plate. I didn't change what kinds of things I eat, or when I eat them, or even plan in advance what size portions to put on my plate. It was the strict accounting for everything I put in my mouth that made me more aware of how much I was eating. It works well for me because most of my meals are at home where it takes only a few seconds to place my plate on the kitchen scale and record how much that meal or snack weighs. It doesn't work well when dining out, where I have to rely on the calorie counts provided on the restaurant menus -- but it is much easier than trying to count calories all the time. I learned from this exercise that regularly eating less than about 800 grams per day (of the foods that I normally eat) will result in weight loss, and that the 800-1000 grams range will keep my weight stable. I also learned what a 200-gram or 300-gram meal looks like, which makes it easier to make decisions about how much I want to eat for this meal.

But I am especially thankful for my granddaughter's sharing of the 80/20 idea, because having that perspective reduces the anxiety that results from occasional deviations from the plan. It's okay, I can compensate for this tomorrow.


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📅 c: 2022-08-03 13:06 ✏️ e: 2022-08-03 15:10

tags: #learning #teaching #parenting #diet #wieght-loss #nutrition