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BC Alumna Trespicio Encourages A More Realistic Approach To Health

Heights Editor

Published: Sunday, March 25, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

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Daniel Lee / Heights Staff

“Stop apologizing for every decision you make in your life,” Terri Trespicio said to a room full of women in the Murray Function Room on Thursday night. The Council for Women of Boston College welcomed Trespicio, who is widely known in her field of healthy living. She is a writer, broadcaster, healthy living expert, regular contributor to local and national media, a former senior editor at Martha Stewart’s Whole Living magazine, and creator of bestdecisionallday.com.

Her talk, “How to Live Your Healthiest Life—Not Someone Else’s,” resonated with the crowd of mostly women, ranging from students to faculty members.

Trespicio, a BC grad herself, began her talk by gauging what her audience believes the word “health” means. The crowd agreed that healthiness connotes happiness, energy, optimism, and focus, a much grander set of adjectives than what one may assume healthy to mean in this image-obsessed society—skinniness.

Healthiness for Trespicio is a way of life, not a temporary plan to lose a few pounds. She debunked many of the common societal myths about healthy living. These included the perceptions that healthy people are safer, high-maintenance, and consumed solely by focusing on eating healthily.

“Stop looking at it as taking more time to be healthy,” Trespicio said. “When you don’t want to eat healthy, your first excuse is you have no time.”

An important point Trespicio made is how much of an influence our health and our mental state has to do with “not just the foods we eat, but with the situations that unfold around us, the people, the crises, the stress.” In order to evade stress’s dire consequences, we need to learn how to not only cope with it, according to Trespicio, but also “how to manage our relationships, our perspective, our sense of the world, and our place in it.” Taking time to relax and activating our parasympathetic nervous system are vital to our overall well-being.

Trespicio is a realist. She recognizes the temptations that arise when the waiter brings the breadbasket to the table. Being healthy isn’t about straining yourself and battling with your cravings. Cravings, she believes, are created by the person, not some outside uncontrollable force.

She believes that self-control is one of the biggest problems facing the United States today. Gradually, one can shift habits and slowly gain momentum around good decisions. At the same time, however, she urged the women not to start blocking out whole food groups because they are “bad.” “Eat foods that make you feel good,” she said with a smile—later admitting that on her drive up to Boston, she ate a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, an indulgence even she couldn’t resist.

It is about what works for the individual, Trespicio argues. There is no one right way to live healthily.

Trespicio acknowledged many other important factors in overall health, including the power of giving. She cited research that proved that giving and volunteering make beneficial physical changes to one’s body. Research shows that kids in high school who give and volunteer their time are more likely to be in better physical and mental health in late adulthood than those who do not.

“Even thinking generous thoughts and merely making the decision to donate to a charity increases activity in the parts of the brain known to release feel-good chemicals,” Trespicio said.

What some women expected to hear in the Murray Room on Thursday night was probably a lecture on how they could lose weight and feel more confident. What they received was instead an insightful and well-rounded look at every aspect of one’s life that impacts physical and mental health.

“Being healthy is not just what you eat, it’s why and how,” Trespicio said. She ended on an inspirational note: “I encourage you to go back to your lives and return to your friendships with a new awareness of what you’re doing and if it’s serving you or not, and then you’ll stop stressing about every little calorie and see your life as an exciting journey.” n

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