How Die-ts Spell Death for the Healthy Coastal Lifestyle

Dieting is anathema to healthy living. I’ve seen it too many times to count. Back in the 80s when NutriSystem was new and hot, someone I know jumped on it; she was a “chunky” size 10. (Funny what was “chunky” by today’s standards.) She followed the diet faithfully, lost a bunch of weight, and looked GOOD. As soon as she met her goal, she got off the diet and started eating as she wanted (a large bag of Doritos in a day, for example), and all those pounds came back and brought friends. They settled in and never left, and now this person has a number of weight-related health problems. Both our dads have done low-carb – Atkins and South Beach – and we’ve watched the pounds drop while they followed the diets and the pounds come back as they started eating carbs again. Even I’ve done that in my life – reduced calories to lose weight, only to gain them back and more once I met my goal. That life isn’t for me.

This yo-yo dieting isn’t healthy at all. It puts tremendous strain on every part of the body. It slows down the body’s metabolism, actually making it harder to lose weight, especially around the gut and internal organs. Yo-yo dieting also leads to increased cortisol levels, which makes us gain weight. It can further lead to Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to life-threatening cardiovascular events. In short, yo-yo dieting can kill you.

I don’t diet. I hate diets. I think they’re intrinsically flawed and doomed to failure for reasons we’ve all experienced. You deprive yourself of something (in behavioral psych terms, that’s called punishment), and when the “punishment” is over (e.g., you’ve met the weight loss goal), we enjoy the forbidden foods again and all those pounds come back with reinforcements. I saw similar behavior with my younger daughter last week.  She abused the boundaries we’d placed on her tablet use during the school year – a day after getting it back from a previous punishment. She’d lost her Fire through the end of the school year, and we gave it back to her when she returned from a mission retreat. For two straight days last week, all I saw was the top of her head while she played games or watched videos on it. Her punishment was over, and she glutted on the thing we’d taken away. As a result, I began placing limits on her use, turning it into a reward.

I like food. I like the tastes, the textures, and the experience of food. When I want the food, I eat the food. It doesn’t matter what it is. I am tending to skew to a higher protein percentage for muscle repair from working out. However, I’ll eat a cookie or a serving of ice cream or a serving of popcorn. I try to reduce my carb intake throughout the day, giving my body more time to burn them, but I don’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen. For me, it’s about moderation and grace. Could I eat a quart of ice cream? Sure. Do I? Not in a sitting. I eat that ice cream a 1/2 cup at a time over weeks, if not months. (That’s moderation.) Some days, I eat more calories than I burn. I don’t give up; I just get back on track the next day, and maybe exercise a bit more throughout the week to keep myself on track overall. (That’s grace.) I’m not a failure because last Tuesday I blew my calorie count out of the water at our anniversary dinner.

My breakfasts tend to be carb-heavy, my lunches more protein- and fruit/vegetable-heavy, and our dinners feature lean protein, vegetables, and, when possible, carbs from veggies (jicama, carrots, peas, etc.) more than from grains, rice, etc. However, when someone else in the house plans and cooks dinner, I gratefully go with what they fix and don’t demand a special meal (there are quite a few social reasons behind that that I won’t get into here). To their credit, they run their menus by me ahead of time so I can eat accordingly throughout the day. I only snack on days when I’ll be eating a late dinner because of workouts and/or soccer practice, and it’s something high-protein, like cheese, a glass of milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a snack serving of Kind Dark Chocolate granola clusters (low glycemic index, good protein – and that stuff is AWESOME!!! in vanilla Greek yogurt).

I drink a LOT of water. Lately I’ve been averaging 9 cups a day. I have 2-3 alcoholic drinks a year, no more than 2 sodas a year, and maybe 5 glasses of sweet tea a year. Juice is rare, milk is less a drink and more a calcium and protein source, and my one mug of coffee a day is the source of my personality.  I can’t stand artificial sweeteners and avoid them at all costs. It’s pure cane sugar or I go without, and since I don’t want to take in tons of sugar, I’ll opt for “without.” Besides, water is cheap; I got into that when I was in Div school and broke but we still wanted to go out occasionally without spending $2 on a glass of tea that costs the restaurant about $.08. (Plus, water keeps our urinary tracts functioning at their best, doesn’t destroy tooth enamel, and keeps the rest of our organs functioning at their peaks.)

The result of all this? Mentally, I know I’m not depriving myself, so I don’t feel like I’m being punished for being overweight, which is basically what weight-loss diets do; they’re punishment. Eating is necessary, but how and what I eat becomes a choice with consequences. If I eat too many carbs in a day, I really don’t feel good in my body. If I want a little sweet bite after dinner and eat 3 Kisses, then I have the pleasure of the chocolate and the “yay, me!” of knowing I’ve exercised will-power. I’ve lost about half the weight I want by combining eating well with a variety of exercises. It hasn’t been fast, but it’s been steady, and I’d rather be healthy for life than just lighter for a few months.

And even better?  I’ve met my final health goal.  Last week, I was able to wear my favorite black velvet choker to our anniversary dinner.  Check it out!

Picture of Peter and me
My honey and me

And I’m still so excited about those shoulders! Woot!

Have you started living the healthy coastal lifestyle, yet? You don’t have to live at the beach to make the magic happen. And remember, the slow walker is doing far better than the couch potato. What steps have you taken to improve your health? Tell us in the comments below. 

 

The Healthy Coastal Lifestyle Continues

A couple of weeks ago, I shared how my journey toward the healthy coastal lifestyle began with exercise.  As I began this journey, I determined to keep a food journal in my phone.  This helped me see what I was eating, how much I was eating, and how healthily I was eating.  After sweating through my first months of exercise, I decided to start getting serious about eating healthily.  If I was doing all this work, I definitely wanted to make sure I wasn’t sabotaging my efforts.

Now, for my caveat…  I don’t have any dietary restrictions or health conditions that prevent me from eating whatever I want.  I do have a genetic predisposition towards high cholesterol, which often sucks, given how much I like eggs, shrimp, and liver pudding, so I do limit myself on these foods.  If you have questions or concerns about how to adjust your diet, talk to your doctor first.  These tricks are what have worked for me.

Things to be aware of…  Sugar is the basic source of energy for us people.  Our bodies burn off simple sugars first – sucrose, fructose, glucose.  Then they go to carbohydrates, converting carbs into sugars.  Once our bodies don’t have any carbohydrates to consume as energy, they start attacking fat, converting fat into sugars for its use.  Keep that in mind, as it is very important for how you eat.

The food journal/diary is very important.  It’s an old trick, it’s fairly simple with today’s technology, but it’s still important.  You can go old school and write down what you eat with pen and paper.  There are computer programs and device apps that keep track of your meals, your calorie and nutrient intake, and whatever else you could want.  Mine also keeps up with my nutrient score and rewards me with a badge when I hit 80 or above (the closer to 100, the better).

Focus on carbs earlier in the day.  This gives your body time to burn it off throughout the day.  Shoot for absolutely no carbs after 5 p.m. (way easier said than done!).  Each gram of carbs is worth 4 calories, so remember that when you’re ready to dive into that Cinnabon.  I hit another plateau in my weight loss, so I started cutting back on carbohydrates, forcing my body into fat-burning mode with the twice-weekly aerobics classes and thrice-weekly walk/jogs.

Working, exercising, straining muscles need protein.  Proteins help repair muscles after workouts, though a protein hit an hour before your workout will boost you gloriously through it.  I grab milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a cheese stick.  Proteins will also help you feel fuller for longer, so you won’t be as tempted to snack.

We can’t forget the fats, though.  It’s gratifying seeing that I truly am cutting carbs, but it’s also disheartening to see the fat grams stacking up.  Our bodies need fat, though.  It’s essential to the metabolism of vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Keep it lean as much as humanly possible, though, avoiding saturated fats and embracing unsaturated.

I honestly deny myself nothing.  If I want dessert, I eat dessert – but only if I’ve kept the eating limited throughout the day.  When I know I’m going to be eating heavily, such as at special dinners, I just go with some lean protein for lunch.  I learned several years ago that when I crave something, I should enjoy it in moderation and get rid of the craving.  Otherwise, that craving becomes an obsession.  At the same time, I listen to my body’s cravings, because usually it craves foods with nutrients it needs.

Working out paired with dietary changes has made a huge difference in how I’ve felt and in my healthy lifestyle journey.  I had to make a wardrobe transition, donating too-big clothes and buying new clothes that are already feeling loose.  But it’s all good, because I see the changes in my body, both in the mirror and when I feel the new muscle tone in my back, arms, abs, and thighs.  And just Sunday, a friend/aerobics instructor said she could see in my face that I’ve lost weight.  When I washed my face last night, I could see my cheekbones have reemerged – those lovely cheekbones that bely my Cherokee heritage.  It’s so good seeing them again!

What steps will you make towards embracing the healthy coastal lifestyle?  Here we are, early in the year with New Year’s resolutions and Super Bowl junk foodin’ behind us.  It’s a great time to get serious!  We’ve got this!

 

Thankful for the Healthy Coastal Lifestyle

About 13 1/2 months ago, I set out on a new health improvement regimen with four specific goals in mind:

  1. Lose 50 pounds.
  2. Improve my knee health.
  3. Prepare my body for mission trips.
  4. Be able to wear my favorite velvet choker again.

The rebrand of last year and the beginning of my new health goals that came just a few months later led my business in ways I couldn’t have even conceived when I was sitting up in bed late at night, legal pad on my knees, scribbling away at ideas.  No longer was my brand just about enjoying the beach with every bath, but it became instead how you can enjoy this beach life with us as I invited you along on beach trips, the ups and downs (and bruises and road rash) of getting fit, and how we eat in our healthy coastal lifestyle.

So, here it is, over a year later.  How did I do?  Pretty well, but I’m not done, yet.  I haven’t yet lost 50 pounds.  I’ve lost 22 pounds and a LOT of inches.  My knees feel awesome!  The aggravation in my left knee from trying to be active with too much weight on it is gone, and my compromised right knee is doing just fine.  In fact, my knees made it through two soccer seasons with no brace and just the very occasional use of NSAIDs.  Back in May, I had the opportunity to go on my first mission trip since starting this journey.  My dad was concerned that all the walking would stress my knees, leaving me unfit for the real work, but I was fine after some light stretches each evening.  And today…  This morning, I took a few moments and tried on my beloved choker, discovering to my delight that it fits again.

The past year saw some frustrations as I tried to get the rest of the family on board with my goals.  However, it didn’t take more than a few months – OK, somewhere between a “few” and “several” – for my other half to stop preparing 900-calorie dinners on his nights to cook.  On the other hand, it also saw me learning how to cook tasty, filling meals that weren’t horrendously laden with calories.  I also got stuck on a plateau.  The same weight for MONTHS!  Oh my gosh, that drove me crazy!  It’s only been in the past month that I’ve broken that plateau and continued dropping.  But, oh, the joy!  The joy of trying on jeans that are one size smaller than I had been wearing (and hiking up all the time) and instructing my poor, beleaguered daughter to “take these and see if there’s a pair smaller.”  Then there is the delightful hilarity of modeling those jeans and appreciating how well they hug in all the right places.  There may have been singing and dancing involved in the appreciation.

After the fall soccer season ended, I wanted to do something to keep that activity up.  Nothing beats running up and down a football pitch with a dozen littles for burning calories!  Our church offers aerobics once a week, so I decided to take advantage of it.  This is what last week’s class looked like on my fitness app.

Sweet! 500 calories burned in just 48 minutes!

Aerobics has become fellowship time as we talk through the workouts.  Some walks present holy moments with one of my daughters, usually the younger.  Other walks clear my head and help me be more creative.  Today’s, for example, gave me space for some crazy poetry writing, as well as drafting this article.  Everything I do for me ultimately benefits my family and my business, as well.

I’m so thankful for this journey, because it has helped me get healthier, helped me be able to enjoy the beach more, helped my business grow, and helped my family.  On top of that, it’s also made it possible for me to meet several new people and get to know many others better.  I’m thankful that you, my customers, have willingly traversed this road with me, and I hope we continue to grow in healthiness and all that brings with it.  After all, what good is living the beach life if we’re not in shape to enjoy it?

You are invited to continue to follow my progress as I continue to push to that 50-pound mark.  I’ll be posting new winning recipes as I discover them and grumbling grunting sharing what’s new in my workouts.  (My aerobics instructor is talking “steps” for January, and I think half my Christmas list is from Dick’s.)  And just… Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.

 

Healthy Every Day

This is a special shout-out to all you parents of children who are or who have been in not-home school (public or private).  Y’all, I am totally out of practice.

It’s no secret that part of our brand’s philosophy involves a healthy lifestyle, because that helps us enjoy our long, active, coastal life, and it’s something we practice at home on a daily basis.  This week, Wee Princess is enjoying a marine biology camp at a local university and having a blast!  Each day, she is supposed to start with a healthy breakfast and have with her a healthy lunch and a healthy snack.  Since my husband rolls out the door with her between 7:15 and 7:30 each morning, I spend a little time each evening putting her breakfast together and preparing her lunch.  Then, in the morning, all he has to do is grab the perishables from the fridge and put them in her lunch bag.

I made the mistake last week of leaving the girls unattended with my laptop and a Pinterest search for “Bento box lunches for kids” while I showered and dressed.  When I came back down, the Wee Princess had a chart listing each day’s breakfast, lunch, and snack.  And we’re talking good, balanced, nutritious options here!  I was surprised, because when I ask her what she wants for lunch, the majority of the time it’s “cinnamon toast” or “quesadilla.”  Most of this week, her breakfast choice is a smoothie of some sort – low added sugar, lots of fiber, tons of calcium and protein – perfect for exploring marshes and beaches!

Blueberry smoothie
Its so purple! Love blueberry smoothies!

I’ve home educated since Little Princess was in second grade (she’s not so little now, as she’s starting high school studies next week!), so having to do the daily lunch and breakfast prep is outside my realm of daily experience.  I had forgotten how much extra work it is, just that little something extra to think about.  It’s not like it’s actual work, but when I’m exhausted and ready for sleep and can finally get into the kitchen, it’s not something I’m dying to do.  And now that so many children are at least sensitive, at worst, severely allergic to peanuts, it’s not as easy as slapping some peanut butter and homemade jam between two pieces of bread.

So, hats off to you parents who do this on a daily basis or used to when your children were little.  Great job keeping it real, keeping it fresh, and keeping it healthy!

How do you do it?  How do you make magic for your kids each day?  Share in the comments below.

Rollin’ Along

In the business seminar my husband and I attended a couple of weeks ago, the presenter said that exercise is key to developing the right mindset for business success.  However, when you’re juggling home life, family life, and running a growing business, how in the world are you supposed to find time to exercise?  Are you one of those who joined a gym in January?  How many times have you made it?  Driving to the gym, working out, showering, then driving on to work or home equals a huge time commitment each day; and it’s so easy to subtract that from your busy schedule.

What if, though, you found an exercise that takes less time but still has good benefits?  The presenter shared that he runs a mile almost every day.  It takes him about 10-15 minutes, but then he’s done.  (He also shared that, when he was in the Corps, he could run three miles in 18 minutes.)  Slow is okay; it’s far better to be slow than not to exercise at all, and the slow mover is still making more progress than the couch potato.

I spend 30-60 minutes a morning, five days a week, doing stretches, resistance work, and toning; there’s absolutely no shortcut to that.  Then I spent another 45 minutes 4 days a week walking almost three miles.  That was before last Thursday.  My trike showed up, all sleek bright yellow, 24″ wheels, six speeds, and a seat perfectly suited to my tushy.

Me on my new trike. The reflectors aren’t the only thing making this visible! It’s bright! Those jeans are getting baggy on me!

Now I can bike those three miles in 20 minutes (I’m still building up speed), getting the heart rate up there, pushing the legs to firm up and get stronger.  The calorie burn is roughly the same as walking, but it takes half the time.  Pretty sweet, huh?  On top of that, my knees have been feeling much more amazing, and on the weekends, I have time to add a walk onto that bike ride.  Another benefit is, I feel exhilarated for a substantial period afterwards, but then I start feeling really draggy around 9:00, which means I crash into sleep quickly and sleep soundly through the night.

This week’s business take-away is, get out and exercise, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.  It’ll help renew and recharge your mind and body, making it easier to give focus to your business life.  That time also allows ideas to fall out of the ether, which can spark some amazingly outside-the-box creative processes!  Make it happen!

 

 

Moving Beyond the Fear & Hype

A Casual Affair: The Best of Tonic
A Casual Affair: The Best of Tonic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The petition crossed my inbox more than a year ago.  It was entitled, “Tradition, not Trademark,” (TnT) and they were moving to have the US Patent and Trademark Office remove the trademark for “Fire Cider” that Shire City Herbals had acquired.  I signed the petition.  At this point, a bunch of my friends had started talking on social media about their fire cider experiments.  They posted pictures and recipes (and, frankly, I thought it looked and sounded disgusting, but that’s beside the point).  Since “fire cider” seemed to be the latest trend in old-timey, all-natural cold remedies, it seemed that any attempts (let alone success) to trademark this tonic was, in fact, hording something that’s been around for ages.

I bought everything that TnT said.  It seemed horridly unfair and unjust for Shire City Herbals (SCH) to take possession of an old folk remedy and prevent all others from making and selling it.  TnT has recommended everyone boycott Shire City Herbals’ Fire Cider tonic, claiming that SCH is a huge mega-corporation out to bury smaller herbal companies.  TnT has backpedaled a little on some of their claims, but they’ve offered no real apologies.

This week, I posted something to one of my social media feeds encouraging the boycotting of SCH Fire Cider.  A certified aromatherapist friend of mine had posted it, so I thought she had the real scoop.  Well, I was wrong, and so was my friend.  I heard from someone from Shire City Herbals – one of the founders of that company.  Apparently, they started making Fire Cider to sell in 2011; others started following suit.  This is the way that usually works:  A product hits the shelves that quickly gets a reputation for being from an old-fashioned, all natural recipe.  All the folks who are interested in having some for themselves without having to buy it hit Google for recipes which they then post on their own social media pages, but maybe with their tweaks.  It spreads from there.  It seems that, in this case, someone (not one of my friends) started making Fire Cider in her own kitchen and claimed that SCH stole the recipe from her.

After perusing some information directly from Shire City Herbals, I’m left with a couple of impressions of this company.  One, in light of everything with which they’ve had to deal, SCH has stayed focused on their own business, which led to their controlling their business growth.  While I’m sure the antics of TnT were annoying at best, SCH seems to have worried more about what they were doing than what TnT was doing.  Two, TnT’s call to boycott SCH’s Fire Cider backfired and proved that boycotts tend not to work.  If anything, a call to boycott intrigues the non-customers (turning them into customers) and it makes the company’s loyal customers rally behind them.

TnT was using fear to promote their agenda, and I am ashamed to say that I bought into it.  They created a fear that Shire City Herbals was going to monopolize the Fire Cider market, making it illegal for anyone else to make or sell it under that name.  The thing is, I’m not even an herbalist in any commercial sense of the word, so no part of this ordeal was even going to impact my business.  I guess the unspoken fear agenda could be, “If one company trademarks a generic folk medicine remedy, then what’s to stop other companies from trademarking other generic product names?”

It was, in fact, Shire City Herbals who first claimed the name fire cider, and the recipe they use is one they derived from one of the owners’ grandmother, as you can read about here.  In light of a few years’ worth of trials, Shire City Herbals has not only managed to survive, but their business has nearly doubled. 

  Successful, outside-the-box thinkers and movers will draw their haters and critics, but they don’t stay successful by listening to the hatemongering of their critics, nor do they buy into the negative hype surrounding them.  They create environments of positivity, focusing more on the good that’s going on than the bad.

Sunny Days Ahead

MarysThoughts

Let me introduce you to Sun on the Go sets.  We are trying small sets in a convenient vinyl spa bag so they are more travel sized.  They can be taken on a plane,  yet are able to take just a little bit of space.  We aren’t doing shampoo;  instead,  we’re doing detangling spray, so after a day in the sun,  you can brush your hair with ease.  The lotion helps after sunburns or tender areas, while, at the same time, you can use it for simply moisturizing your skin.  SOTG_Small2The soap will be good for cleaning sweat, germs and even shells off your skin.  You can use it on your face, though we can’t predict how your skin will react, since people are sensitive to different things.  The lip balm will not work as a sun screen lip balm, so don’t use it that way.  However it will work if your lips are dried out. You can pick these up at the Blueberry Festival this Saturday, 21 June 2014 or order them from our online store if you’re not going to be in the area this weekend.

Patchouli!

It’s that great earthy scent that is a flashback to the 60s, the Summer of Love and the Peace Movement.  It conjures up images of painted VW vans with shag carpeting in the back and very mellow hippie people with long hair with flowers in it.  This is a love-it-or-hate-it scent; I’ve yet to hear anyone say, “I kinda like it.”  It’s Patchouli, and if you can’t tell, I’m completely in the “LOVE IT!!!” camp.

One of the most awesome swirls I've ever done in Patchouli.  Totally wow!
One of the most awesome swirls I’ve ever done in Patchouli. Totally wow!
A close-up of that wicked cool swirl
A close-up of that wicked cool swirl

This was such a fun soap to make!  The business rule is, no one under the age of 12 gets to help make cold process soap, which, of course, means that both my girls are salivating for the opportunity to help me make it.  My four-year-old mixed all my colorants for me (there are 12 total), and my ten-year-old mixed the raw soap into the colorants.  Mom was here when we mixed and poured it, which was her first experience watching me make soap.  When I swept the coat hanger into the soap and we saw the swirl emerge, we gasped at how cool it was.  Click either pic to purchase a bar of Patchouli soap, or wait about 3 1/2 weeks for these jewels to be ready for purchase.

 In which camp are you?  Do you love it or hate it?

 

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Luxurious Solutions for Winter Dry Skin

It is not at all unusual for me to get special orders for products or for people to tell me about their skin conditions and ask me to pair them up with products that will meet their needs.  Usually, for complaints of psoriasis, eczema or sensitivities to fragrances, I recommend Soap of Milk & Honey (and Oatmeal!).  I received a call, though, from a long-time customer who was looking for products similar to what she had been getting from another company.  That’s not something I usually like to do, but she gave me the name of the company and the products, so I started investigating.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered these products which were earth-inspired and “natural” were made of premade bases with a few things added!  They even made claims about the healing properties about an ingredient that was in a product’s name, and the only hint of that ingredient was the scent!

No, I could not duplicate these products for my friend; I could make them from scratch even better.  I relayed to her my findings and warned her that I couldn’t make these products cheaper than she was getting them.  In fact, they would be more expensive.  She said, “I don’t care.  Yours will be better, and I’d rather buy from you, anyway.”  Here are her skin treats…

Handmade Lotion & Soap with an all natural lavender and pink grapefruit fragrance
Handmade Lotion & Soap with an all natural lavender and pink grapefruit fragrance

For bathing, I’m hooking her up with gloriously luscious body wash.  This mild soap made of a blend of premium, skin-loving oils builds lots of fluffy lather and leaves skin scrumptiously silky and richly supple.  The fragrance is an intriguing blend of herbaceous lavender and juicy pink grapefruit.  To hit those troubled dry spots, the lotion is a creamy blend features coconut milk and contains avocado oil, a great addition for her slightly more mature skin.  This also has that same incredible scent as the soap, so she’ll get to enjoy the light scent without inflicting it on everyone around her.

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It’s All About Customer Service

Today is my birthday, and the sweet treats of the day started this morning when one of my Divinity School professors guest preached at church, and my parents came down to join us for worship and to take us out to lunch.  My parents love fried seafood, and since miserable winter weather had prevented their trip to the beach last month, they wanted to go to this great local seafood restaurant, which was fine with us.  The restaurant serves delicious food, and we’ve always had enjoyable dining experiences there.

We arrived at the restaurant, and wow!  Was it crowded!  We put our name on the list, and the hostess told us it’d be a 20-minute wait.  We could hold out that long.  That twenty minutes ended up being much longer than imagined.

We waited more than 20 minutes, and still no table. My husband checked THREE times to see how much longer, and he was told, “You’re the next big party on the list. It shouldn’t be much longer now.” FINALLY, OVER an HOUR later, we hear the hostess call our name (barely) from inside the restaurant (She had been poking her head out to call customers who were waiting outside). We go inside, and she’s seating a party of 6 who had just come in. I pointed out how long we’d been waiting, and she simply said, “Sorry.” I informed her that we had two very hungry children in our party, and she said lamely, “Oh, I didn’t know you had children with you.” What should that matter? She didn’t even offer to make arrangements for us to sit down until after I asked to speak to the manager.

She sat us at a very cramped table for five and said she’d get a chair for our youngest (age 4). Ten minutes later, and still no chair. Another five minutes pass before the manager comes over. I explained how the actions of the hostess were far from the standards of even halfway good customer care, and he apologized, told me he’d inform the owner (cynical me doubts that will happen), and assured me it’ll never happen again. I was unpleasantly surprised that he didn’t offer to comp us anything for the extraordinarily long wait or the hostess’s lackadaisical attitude. I would have expected him to offer to comp us drinks or an appetizer at the minimum.

Our server, Ashley, did redeem the bad service experience with her own warm, energetic, courteous, attentive service. The hostess and the manager both had opportunities to practice what I call Super-Amazing Customer Care, and here’s where I think their learning opportunities lie:

(1)  When you have made a mistake, admit it.  The hostess first gave a flippant “sorry,” followed by a bit of sarcasm, topped off with an I-don’t-care shrug.  In reality, however it happened, she skipped our names.  No one likes being wrong, and being caught messing up at work is pretty embarrassing.  Been there, done that.  This happened to me in December.  I had missed a whole product subcategory when I was updating my inventory numbers on my website; as a result, a customer ordered soaps I didn’t have in stock.  I contacted her about the problem and offered her a solution to make it right.

(2)  A little sacrifice now will prevent a bigger loss later.  To be honest, I would have liked for the hostess to unseat the group she pushed in front of us and explained her mistake.  That doesn’t seem just to me.  At the absolute very least, the manager should have offered to comp us something – drinks (tea, Coke, chocolate milk, water) or an appetizer.  The actions of the hostess and the manager make me rethink returning to that restaurant, and I posted a less-than-favorable review which could possibly cost this restaurant business.  In the mistake I referenced from a sale in December, I shipped her the one soap I did have in stock, two other nice ones, a small lotion, and I promised to ship at no cost the soaps she ordered that I didn’t have as soon as they became available.  Sure I will lose a little money off this, but at the same time, it’s worth it to me to make a customer happy.

(3)  One person can turn around a bad customer service experience.  In our case, our server redeemed our lunch time, providing warm, prompt, enthusiastic, energetic customer service. We did almost, however, leave the restaurant, not wanting to expose ourselves to more poor service and giving another restaurant the opportunity to give us the service we deserved as paying customers.  That reality is there, regardless of the business you’re in.  Whether you’re a mechanic, restaurant owner, doctor or soapmaker, if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will.

What are some customer service lessons you would add, either as a business owner or as a consumer?

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