<![CDATA[Ilana's Piece--<br />Nourishing Mind, Body, & Soul - Media Messages]]>Tue, 16 Feb 2016 21:02:11 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[I Find It Kind of "Phoney"--a Love-Hate Relationship]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2011 03:35:38 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/i-find-it-kind-of-phoney-a-love-hate-relationshipJust a week ago, I was getting ready for bed when I discovered that my cell phone had lost service. A message appeared saying "No Sim" and the phone was incapable of performing all tasks. I went into panic mode and immediately jumped on the computer to search for answers. A friend of mine, who is an iPhone connoisseur, happened to be on Facebook and I actually arranged to meet him downtown immediately to remedy the situation. As Christine Rosen states in the article, "Our Cell Phones, Ourselves," "The reasons people give for owning cell phones are largely practical--convenience and safety" (37). In this situation, those two largely important aspects seemed to be jeopardized. Going just one hour without a working phone caused me to feel extremely insecure and produced an enormous amount of anxiety. Although difficult to fathom, the fact is that it was really not that long ago that cell phones were absent from our culture. Just in my lifetime, the cell phone has undergone a huge evolution, immensely impacting society by changing the way people interact with one another, accessibility to information, and personal boundaries.

Recently, there was a discussion in one of my communications classes about how cell phones have become security blankets and have effected our social interactions. I will be the first to admit that when walking across campus, it is easy to avoid small talk or making awkward eye contact with those I pass, by simply pulling out my phone and pretending to be intently focused on a message or e-mail.  Rosen states, "These devices are all used as a means to refuse to be 'in' the social space; they are technological cold shoulders that are worse than older forms of subordinate activity in that they impose visually and auditorily on others" (38). We lose sight, literally, of the world around us, as we become so engrossed in our phones and isolated from those physically nearby. If too nervous to confront someone face to face, sending a text message or even talking over the phone are alternatives that simply feel more comfortable. People develop a certain confidence when communicating through a message that they may not possess in person. This technology is limiting human interaction, acting as a replacement, and inhibiting our abilities to bite the bullet and handle an uncomfortable or awkward situation.

Yet while the cell phone clearly causes isolation, the advancements that have been made allow users to also be more connected than ever in terms of current events and other information found locally and around the world.  When our grandparents were growing up, a person had to wait until the news was broadcast on television or radio or the next paper was printed in order to gather the latest reports. Now at anytime and from anywhere, one can whip out their phone and get an update on anything from directions, or the score of a particular sporting event, to the weather forecast for the upcoming weekend.  One can watch a video someone has taken of a natural disaster or crime from thousands of miles away, just seconds after it has occurred. Impactful visuals that elicit great emotion and answers to almost any question are right at our fingertips. This instant accessibility further endorses the idea that everything in our society needs to be fast-paced and highly efficient. People become agitated and lose the critical skill of patience when they cannot find what they want or need immediately.  

Just as the cell phone makes information accessible at all hours, it makes people available in the same way. A couple weeks ago, my Mom interviewed for a new job and the interviewer asked her if she owned a smart phone and if not, whether she would be willing to purchase one for this new position. The cell phone creates a constant connection to one's professional life. There is no longer a clear distinction between work and home. As these two facets of life become more intertwined, people lose the ability to find quality, meaningful time with friends and loved ones. Even when out to a nice dinner with a significant other, or snuggled up on the couch to watch a movie with the kids, one is engaged in other conversations, e-mails, and updates occurring through their phone. Rosen noted that sociologists Amit Schejter and Akiba Cohen found "there were no less than ten cell phone interruptions during a recent staging of 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' at Israel's National Theater" (35). Your cell number is a portal into your personal life and when acquired by a business, employer, or any other individual, the traditional boundaries of public and private are broken.

While I could ramble on about the pros and cons of the cell phone, at the end of the day it is something I truly feel I could not live without; it is a love-hate relationship. I think it is important to begin to step back and personally assess how we can revise some of our habits in order to restore more traditional interactions that have been important in many years past. Just because a new technology is presented, it does not mean we must dive into it right away and abandon "the old way."  Like everything else in life, it is about finding a balance and living in the grey area. A constant connection to our phones should not disconnect us from our actual daily lives!
<![CDATA[Check Me Out!]]>Sat, 19 Nov 2011 03:53:36 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/check-me-outI have been contemplating what to write about for the last couple of days. While many students are excited to head home for the holiday and take a breather from schoolwork, I cannot help but remain stressed by all that is left to accomplish before the semester's end. Every so often, I am reminded that graduation is but six months away, and as it steadily creeps upon me, there are so many anxiety-provoking, lingering, questions and uncertainties as to what the future holds. 

While on the treadmill at the gym this morning, I was tuned into "Live with Regis and Kelly." It happened to be a one hour tribute to Regis, as it was his last day on the program. This man has been on television over 995,000 minutes! He has touched the lives of millions of viewers and I think it is safe to say that he will forever be remembered as a television icon. This got me thinking...Although I am not sure what facet of Broadcast Journalism I will settle into, whether it be a producer, director, writer, host, etc., I know that I want to somehow make a difference. It would be quite a stretch to think that I will ever ascertain a career such as legends like Regis, Oprah, or Barbara Walters; however, I want to bring light to the lives of whomever it is I come into contact with throughout my career. 

I have great anxiety over the upcoming adventure of finding an internship opportunity/job upon graduation. I have a tendency to doubt my abilities and marketability in such a competitive environment. Yet I know if I stay true to myself, with time and determination, I will find something that draws on my skills, knowledge, and passions. 

This semester I have been writing for and anchoring the Friday evening news at ComRadio, which has been a great experience. Through my radio reporting class last year, I found that I really enjoy the producing and directing aspects of broadcasts and ComRadio has allowed me to develop an equal liking for on-air reporting. Additionally, this semester I am enrolled in a Television Broadcast class where I am putting together my own news packages from start to finish. I research and write the story, conduct interviews, film the video, and do all of the editing. While this is a stressful process, it is unbelievably rewarding to see it all come together. At first, I did not think I was actually capable of "one man banding" it, but I proved that notion wrong! I have uploaded to YouTube a few of the news packages I have done thus far and have included the links below. I hope you find these enjoyable and interesting. I would love to receive feedback, if you feel so inclined! 

<![CDATA[Thinking Critically During this Time of 'Surreality']]>Sat, 12 Nov 2011 01:30:48 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/thinking-critically-during-this-time-of-surrealityOne week ago, right around this time, I was preparing for my evening newscast at ComRadio when my producer handed me a news release regarding the Sandusky charges. It was the first I had heard of the case. Little did I know that this story was on the verge of exploding within the coming days.

I have acquired most of my knowledge on the series of events through Internet articles and social media outlets. What greatly disturbs me is the fact that we as students, and the media, which covers many of our actions, have lost sight of the core issue. Numerous children were sexually assaulted and will forever be emotionally damaged from the incidents and yet all we seem to focus on is the legendary coach Joe Paterno and fate of President Graham Spanier. While they certainly may have played a part and enabled the crimes to continue, if we used the time that has been spent on covering their every move, and redirected it towards efforts to seek out the victims, we could actually start to heal some wounds and find specs of justice.

I refuse to partake in the rallies occurring at Old Main, downtown, and outside of Paterno's home. The schools image and integrity has already been tarnished and students are exacerbating that by acting out and obnoxiously petitioning. I have yet to read or watch one story discussing the victims of the crime, but have viewed a plethora of images of students in an uproar, even one man who burned his diploma on the lawn of Old Main yesterday afternoon. It is understandable that this is a time of so many strong, passionate, and conflicting emotions yet there are much more productive ways to express them while upholding respect, dignity, and grace for our own moral compasses and for the sake of this institution. No one has acquired all of the facts and put the pieces of this jumbled puzzle together yet. This time calls for critical thought and analysis through discussion, reflection, and investigation, but certainly not by engaging in even more destructive and shameful acts of violence and hate.

Since many people both locally and nationally are using Facebook and Twitter to gather most of their information regarding these events, perceptions and beliefs about what is actually happening are becoming extremely skewed. These media outlets provide only short bursts of information and/or opinions, which clearly do not tell the entire story. Additionally, there is a lot of hear say and personal bias that inhibits one's ability to acquire facts and develop their own personal opinion of the situation. We are inundated with media and it is critical that we take time to decipher truth from commentary and direct our attention to the core issues of the case.  The media needs to prioritize the story so that the first order of business is the alleged crime and the victims, then the accused Sandusky, Curley, and Schultz, and lastly, those who may not have done enough, such as Paterno.

A couple of days ago, a local media outlet contacted me to make a comment on President Spanier's actions. They were looking to me for a statement due to the fact that I am a student in this Presidential Leadership Academy. While I have many thoughts and strong feelings I would love to convey, I decided that it was in my best interest to keep my mouth closed. I have developed a close connection to President Spanier, as we have had many in-depth conversations during Leadership Academy classes and events. I want to root for him. Yet to evaluate a situation critically, it is important to remove any biases and quick impulsive reactions; therefore, I have to express my honest insights. To be truthful, I was so disappointed by the statement he released Saturday evening conveying his full support for Curley and Schultz during this time. It made no sense to me, as I feel that making that comment immediately put his job in jeopardy. A pillar of this Academy and something he has always said is, "It is our responsibility to prepare students to understand that the most difficult decisions in today's world require the examination of all sides of an issue. It is in the gray area that the greatest challenges reside." Why not keep quiet until the full story was unveiled and think deeply and critically about every side of the issue before making such a prominent statement? It is hard to even fathom that he was involved in this sort of "boys club" and allegedly conspired in this debacle. Yet in no way was I going to express my views to a reporter, for I want to honor his Academy, uphold my greatest of respect for all he encompasses and has accomplished at this University, and avoid contributing to the perpetual feed of opinions that are becoming the news.
<![CDATA[Racial Representations in the Media]]>Wed, 26 Oct 2011 00:50:51 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/racial-representations-in-the-mediaHere is a piece I composed following some interesting class discussions on the often unspoken issue of minority representations, or lack thereof, in the media. Enjoy!

Last year I became very ill and was forced to seek treatment, whereby I was basically on bed rest for about three months. While the facility I was staying in had only one television channel and an inconsistent Internet connection, it did have the first six seasons of "Grey's Anatomy" on DVD.  This was a show that I had enjoyed watching with family and friends since its beginning and I was so grateful that it could help keep me occupied during such a difficult time. With dozens of episodes under my belt, this show immediately came to mind upon engaging in recent discussions in one of my Communications classes about media portrayals of race and class. I believe "Grey's Anatomy" largely contrasts typical unfair and unbalanced media representations. It is a very unique television series in that it makes a great attempt at equally representing gender, various ethnicities, and sexualities.

"Grey's Anatomy" is a medical drama based around the professional and personal lives of a group of surgeons working in Seattle Grace Hospital. From the show's initial construction, the cast of doctors has been a very diverse group composed of individuals with White, Black, Asian, and Hispanic roots. This early inclusion was critical to the shows receptiveness with viewers. For example, when a classic Disney movie like "Cinderella" is remade to feature a Black woman, uproar ensues, as many audience members see it as forced and unnecessary. However, in regards to "Grey's Anatomy," the audience was never compelled to question why suddenly a minority had appeared, as the context and placement had been established as the norm from the very start. In the article, "May the Circle Stay Unbroken," author Phil Chidester says, "...network production decisions shape and reinforce persistent notions of racial difference and privilege" (161). Yet in this instance, "Grey's Anatomy" shatters common stereotypes by representing all races as strong, intelligent, and ambitious professionals. While all of these characters certainly possess flaws and make mistakes, they are all repeatedly shown as having a positive impact on the lives of many people and truly making a difference. This depiction is refreshing and allows viewers of various backgrounds to affiliate with one of the many characters and feel empowered.

Just as the characters are far from homogeneous, so are the various romances on the show.  "Grey's Anatomy" has shown relationships between an Asian woman and Black man, an Asian woman and White man, and a White woman and woman of Hispanic decent. In the article, "Most Americans Approve of Interracial Marriages," author Joseph Carroll states, "more than three in four Americans say they approve of marriages between blacks and whites." Although that leaves 25 percent of the United States population as unsupportive or apathetic, it has not prevented writers and producers of "Grey's Anatomy" from venturing out and illustrating these relationships. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the show validates these types of unions by showing them as long lasting and real, in that there are many typical ups and downs that the characters must work through and resolve. With such a popular show promoting interracial and same-sex relationships, societies overall stance might begin to change. For those who are not as media literate, unable to dissect and analyze media messages and establish their own separate opinions, this might be a medium from which they formulate and base their beliefs.

Due to the fact that "Grey's Anatomy" is a show about doctors, it does not necessarily represent the lower class population, unless of course these individuals come into the hospital as patients or are spotted at the local bar, which the surgeons frequent after work. This proves Richard Butsch's point in his article "Social Class and Television," that there is "...a repeated under-representation of blue collar and over-representation of white-collar characters. Professionals and managers predominate." Yet in this case, I do not feel it is necessarily a detriment. By showing both women and men of various ethnicities as powerful and intelligent medical professionals, a message is conveyed that it is possible for all types of people to achieve their goals. Women are no longer expected to simply stay at home and keep the house clean and Black men are absolutely capable of running a large institution such as a hospital.  Butsch says people "...use television to their advantage, and interpret content to suit their own needs and interests." Hopefully, the youth watching this show are identifying with a character and becoming inspired to strive to succeed, despite the "minority" title they may carry with them.

The media holds great persuasive power and can construct and/or reinforce views and beliefs that viewers possess regarding social issues such as race and class. These perceptions are often skewed and inaccurate, creating a warped reality. I like to think of "Grey's Anatomy" as a beautiful salad bowl. While there are White, straight doctors that serve as the standard lettuce of the dish, the other ethnicities and sexualities act as the delicious additions that enhance the salad with texture, flavor, and zest. The show conveys to the viewer that one need not conform and melt into society, but rather they can have pride in their individual characteristics, embrace who they are, and attain a successful and fulfilling life in the process.
<![CDATA[The Teachings of Reality Television...]]>Sat, 01 Oct 2011 02:30:31 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/the-teachings-of-reality-televisionIn one of my Communications classes, I was recently asked to analyze the teachings of a particular media source. I chose my guilty pleasure, a reality television show, and dissected the subliminal messages it preaches. Here is what I came up with...what do you think?

Every Sunday evening, I look forward to crawling into bed and indulging in the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" on the Bravo Network. After what is usually a full day of completing school assignments, this show provides a means for calming my mind and easing my anxieties. Although I use this program as an escape from my academics, it may actually be subliminally teaching me a thing or two. "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" projects messages onto its audience that can potentially both positively and negatively impact their perspectives of culture, gender roles, and societal norms.

On a recent episode, the ladies attended a fashion show where a portion of the proceeds was donated to a charitable organization. While the television program wants the viewer to believe these women are doing such a wonderful thing by contributing to a charity, the reality is that their main motive in attending the event is to see friends, preview the latest styles, which they will soon purchase, and enjoy free drinks along with a five-course meal.  In fact, I do not believe they even mentioned the specific organization the event was benefitting! Their monetary contribution is the way they justify being good citizens and how they validate themselves. As Greg Dickinson states in his article titled, "Selling Democracy," these "'civic-minded' [women] can have pleasure, style, and civility all in one simple purchase" (280). These housewives are so caught up in their own personal agendas, they assume that someone else will pick up the slack and resolve the important issues. So by just giving some money, they believe they are making a fine contribution because other individuals will become enabled to foster the needed change. In watching this episode, the viewer loses the idea that there are many ways to participate in society that are void of consumption, such as volunteering their time or conducting some research to actually become knowledgeable and passionate about an issue.

The "plot" of the "Real Housewives of New Jersey" usually entails luxurious shopping sprees, fine dining, and lavish celebrations. It portrays the women as having achieved the good life through the continual consumption of material goods.  Although they live in enormous homes and have everything they could ever need, it simply is not enough. In Susan Strasser's article titled, " The Alien Past," she states, "...manufactures convince consumers to buy more of what they already have by offering more options" (386). These women epitomize that point, as they revel in newness and frequently buy updated versions of items they already possess. This also conveys the idea of commodity fetish, whereby the women are ignorant of the items social relations, its origins and the resources and labor that it required. Rather, these commodities just become things that promote their social status and happiness. Price is never discussed and the viewer is led to believe that the more products purchased, the better life will be.

While the show unfortunately fosters negative messages in regards to citizenship and consumption, it also cultivates positive statements about family and gender roles.  The importance of family is made clear through the strong bonds between the women and their husbands and children. They often come together for family meals and openly communicate through in depth conversations about issues going on in the workplace and at school. This season, one of the housewives named Teresa, has been working diligently to repair the relationship with her brother. These acts convey to the viewer that people can overcome obstacles and the love and support found in family can prevail. With so many broken homes in this country, it is important to highlight perseverance and hope in this context.

This show also does a nice job of emphasizing the strength and power women possess. It illustrates that this is no longer a male dominated world, as these women are involved in successful business ventures and highly regarded projects. While I recognize that their husbands have also been quite successful and probably laid the foundation for their wealth, these women have exercised great ambition and worked hard to achieve many of their goals. For example, Teresa wrote a couple of cookbooks, which both made it onto the New York Times Best Seller list. Young women who watch this show may feel empowered after seeing what ordinary females were capable of accomplishing. 

I believe the producers of the  "Real Housewives of New Jersey" need to shift the focus of the shows content. There should be an even greater emphasis on the family bonds and achievements of these women and much less focus on the material goods they purchase and events they attend. While we the viewers may not mind how the show is currently constructed, the underlying messages can subconsciously impact our future behaviors and decisions; therefore, it is important that the messages being presented are as constructive as possible. Thankfully, through my Communications 411 class, I have become much more media literate and have the ability to see beyond the surface and dissect the shows subliminal messages; however, that may not be the case for many of the shows viewers...
<![CDATA["The Rabbit in Drag"]]>Fri, 30 Sep 2011 02:21:51 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/the-rabbit-in-dragGrowing up, I loved Sunday mornings when I had the opportunity to crawl into bed with my parents and watch a cartoon or two. No, my Mom and Dad did not watch cartoons on a daily basis, but they did this especially for me, as it was sort of an opportunity for family bonding. At this young and innocent age, I would not have been able to comprehend a show like "Meet the Press," and a cartoon seemed more age appropriate; however, I now realize that even these programs were exposing me to quite mature and controversial issues.

I was truly shocked yesterday, when in one of my communications classes, we began to discuss the hidden messages embedded in cartoons. Unlike a movie or television show, everything in a cartoon is constructed and exists as a code. Sometimes an actors true feelings or mannerisms permeate into a character; however, with animation, there are no accidents and every movement and characteristic displayed is intentional.

So when we look at Bugs Bunny for instance, what do we see? A male rabbit, right? Yet how do we know he is actually male? Since cartoon characters are mostly male-oriented, an assumption just evolves. Females are represented as very passive and are either there to act as eye candy or comedic relief. Since Bugs is never a passive recipient of action and always is proactive in solving a problem, we believe the rabbit must be a male. Yet in order for Bugs to remedy an issue, he often dresses in drag and takes on a different persona. Yet never once growing up did I, or I'm sure many others, question this behavior. The animation un-grounds it from everyday life and it is already so fantastical that we do not think twice when we watch an animal switch gender roles. Yet when a transgender person such as Chaz Bono is announced as a contestant on the popular show "Dancing With the Stars," many people are in an uproar and find it inappropriate.

Is it possible that the Bugs Bunny Americans have adored for decades is gay or transgender? Back in the 50's when these cartoons were coming to light, these issues were not accepted, let alone openly discussed in public. No one would ever think something on public television and geared for a young audience would convey Bugs Bunny as a homosexual. These cartoons have done a phenomenal job of undermining cultural norms at a very subliminal level. The writers and animators of these programs have succeeded in producing works that are embraced by so many yet transmit huge societal critiques...it's amazing! As I become more media literate and develop and perfect my skills of dissecting and analyzing media, I will gain such wonderful insight and perspective such as this. I hope I have helped you to become enlightened as well...

On a side note: I'd like to wish all of my Jewish followers and friends a very HAPPY & HEALTHY NEW YEAR. May it be full of hope, love, and success.
<![CDATA[Is Reality TV Actually Free??]]>Thu, 08 Sep 2011 00:39:17 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/is-reality-tv-actually-freeIn one of my recent Communications classes, we discussed the relationship between advertisers and the public. We were asked to write about a particular media and explore the effects its advertising, deliberate or not, had on its audience. I chose to focus on a particular reality television show and the text that follows are the thoughts I composed. Enjoy! 

I have to admit that one of my biggest guilty pleasures is reality television. From "The Real Housewives" series on Bravo to "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" on the E Network, my DVR is frequently working hard. In recent years, reality television has become all the rage. Many sitcoms and series have been cancelled and replaced by these shows, which are much cheaper for the networks to produce; however, they are creating a much greater cost for the viewer. "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" is a show that lures in the viewership of young women and promotes a lavish and luxurious lifestyle through its content, as well as the commercials that are interwoven into the programming every eight minutes.

At the end of a long evening of studying, I love to crawl into bed and watch an episode of the Kardashians. It feels like an escape, a way to relax my mind and become engrossed in people's lives that have no resemblance to my own. As the girls travel around the world, dine in five-star restaurants, and go on shopping sprees where price tags are never glanced at, as a viewer, I cannot help but want to attain that lifestyle one day.  The show attracts its audience of young women through its "plot," which always emphasizes the beauty, sex appeal, love, and luxury the Kardashian girls encompass.  It has a casual and at times comedic tone that makes watching an enjoyable and mindless experience after what may have been a long or difficult day for the viewer.

"Keeping Up with the Kardashians" clearly puts the audience into a consuming mood because it portrays material goods and extravagant surroundings as being the pathway to happiness, love, and fulfillment. The segments of the show are followed by commercials that are often related to its content. For instance, just last night I watched an episode and even though I had recorded it and could fast forward through the commercials, I still saw glimpses of advertisements for Khloe Kardashians perfume, the Kardashian clothing line in stores now at Sears, and a television special next month on Kim Kardashian's recent wedding. In an article we read for class titled, "News Media and Society," Smythe states it best, "The work which audience members perform for the advertiser to whom they have been sold is to learn to buy particular 'brands' of consumer goods, and to spend their income accordingly..."(137). So after watching the day to day lives of the Kardashians through this show, the viewer feels they can have a piece of it if they buy the products and attain the materials that these girls possess. It would make no sense for the network to advertise products geared toward men or seniors during this time slot because it is safe to assume that they are not primarily viewing the program. The media sells an audience, in this case of young women, to the advertisers. Then the advertisers cater to those particular viewers interests and desires in the hopes of keeping them attentive and yielding an effect of consumption.

Even if the viewer is to completely ignore the commercials, they are still being sold various goods. Anytime the girls eat something on the show or use a specific item, it is an endorsement for that product. Young women that admire Kim's body or Kourtney's perfect skin are going to think, "Maybe if I eat that bread or use that cleanser, I'll become more like them." These product placements are not necessarily always planned yet they have an impact on the audience.

While "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and other reality television shows are saving networks money, I would argue the viewer may potentially be at a financial loss. Although the program is free to view, the lifestyle and coinciding products being promoted within and around the context of the show are putting the audience in a spending mood! To achieve a similar kind of living to that of the Kardashian family, we want to emulate their style, food choices, and travel experiences. It is around these items and ideas that the advertising dollars are placed and we as an audience are allured. Although I recognize such pitfalls, I will not refrain from indulging in these programs...what about you?

<![CDATA[Who We Are Is What We Eat..]]>Fri, 02 Sep 2011 00:44:06 GMThttp://ilanaspiece.weebly.com/media-messages/who-we-are-is-what-we-eatIn a recent Communications class, we discussed television's Food Network. Food is no longer viewed as simply fulfilling a biological need. Rather, it is representative of who we are. Our society views massive consumption as an indicator of having achieved the good life. The more pristine your kitchen and the more luxurious food you consume, the better off you are. If you notice, most shows on the Food Network are filmed on sets and in environments that are quite extravagant and pristine; therefore, these programs are selling more than recipes by utilizing them. However, I would like to argue that in recent years, the Food Network has definitely begun to cater more to the viewer's reality. There are shows such as "Semi-Homemade," "30 Minute Meals," and "Hungry Girl," all of which promote accessible ingredients and quick and easy cooking for the working parent or even college student. I'll come back to this, but let me digress a moment...

For many years I used food as a way to manage the stress and pressures of life. I would either eat large amounts of food to feel better, as it sort of buried my emotions and was a way of escaping reality for a few minutes, or eliminate eating, as it was one less thing to think about and something which I had total control over in my life. It did not take long to realize that although these behaviors provided comfort in the short run, they were extremely detrimental to my health and well-being. To combat this awful coping mechanism, I now set aside an hour or so on the weekends and plan out my meals for the upcoming week. When the chaos of classes and other obligations ensue, it is one less thing I have to worry about because it has already been mapped out. There is no chance that I will restrict or binge to cope with what life throws my way. While I remain extremely health conscious and slightly obsessed, always reading labels, making comparisons, and researching, I have found that nutrition and cooking are things that I am really passionate about! I rarely go out to eat or grab food on the go because I like knowing how my food is made and exactly what's in it, and love the whole process of shopping for groceries and preparing my meals.

Personally, I love watching shows on the Food Network. I am well aware that I may not have the same type of pans or décor as these television personalities yet they help spark ideas for recipes and creative uses for various food items. As an extremely healthy eater, I like the challenge of watching these cooks prepare a meal and then refining it to make it more figure-friendly and compatible with what I have on hand in my own kitchen. I definitely believe that what you cook and eat is a reflection of who you are and I love experimenting and exploring that, sometimes with a little inspiration from the Food Network.

I have included a photo of a dinner that I made just a couple nights ago for myself. It is a homemade turkey burger that is comprised of 99% fat free, organic ground turkey, sautéed onions, spinach, and grated Parmesan cheese. I topped it with all-natural cranberry chutney and served it atop organic spring mix and alongside a baked sweet potato sprinkled with cinnamon. Are you hungry yet??