Winter

Status

Brace Yourself •Photo credit: Eric Lanning•

“Brace Yourself”
Photo credit: Eric Lanning

While it might sound like I am complaining about the weather, I’m not. It is what it is – and what it is, is hard. Those are just the facts.

I haven’t mentioned the house problems that I’ve had because of it: giant ice dams (my roofer said they were the largest dams he had seen in 23 years in the business), water leaking into my house, gutters ripping down because of the ice, (and slamming into the house all night long during a windstorm,) my front door being frozen shut, and of course, frozen pipes. The good side is that the roof didn’t collapse (I have a friend whose did), the gutter ripped itself off like an old band-aid, and the water damage is quite minimal. It is a pain in the butt and a filthy mess, but nothing serious. The pipes have (so far) all thawed with the generous use of a space heater and I don’t use the front door anyway. Annoying? Sure, but not all that terrible. A lot of people have had to deal with a lot worse.

There is even a silver lining to having to hire a roofer to work on the ice dams. He gave me some great advice. Adding more insulation and cold air vents will prevent some of this in the future and make my house energy-efficient. (Things you don’t want to hear from your roofer: “Is your house over a 100 years old?” Yes... “Thought so. It has 100 year old insulation.”) But then again, it’s an easy problem to solve – all it takes is money. Problems are not always so easy.

On the money side, I am still thinking deeply about my next career move. I’ve seen a few things that have caught my eye and that gives me hope. The job market was so bad for so long, I was just grateful to even have a job. Now I am starting to see signs that positions in my field are starting to open up. I’ve been working a lot on building an online portfolio of my work as well as brushing up the old resume.

All of this is part of my confusion. I’m just not sure what to focus on. My house needs repairs, I’d love to find new work, and at the same time I have loved ones and friends I haven’t spent enough time with lately. I also need to focus on myself. I was in a deep funk for a while, and I want to get back to feeling like a badass. If I do go looking for a job, having a little badassery on my side would not be a bad a thing at all!

I’ve also let this blog go and I miss it. I know that there are only so many hours in the day and blah, blah, blah, but still, when I write here I feel good. It helps me pick out the important things and I when I make commitments here, I trend to keep them. That’s good for my overall mojo. The trick is trying to put it all together. What does get dropped? How to I make it all happen?

I don’t know. Still working on that one.

March

Walking Hermes

The snow does not deter my dog in the slightest

Though it is March, it was -5 degrees this morning (colder yet with windchill.) With over 20″ of snow on the ground, it still feels like February. My city is constantly being ranked in the snowiest cities in the country – not just in the top 10, we are up in the top three. The other morning the wind was whipping fine snow spray everywhere. I felt this strange sensation… it took a minute to realize that my eyelashes were freezing together! Welcome to winter in the Midwest.

I don’t really mind all that much – snow shoveling is an excellent work out, as is slogging though snow. In fact, my dog walks are more like hikes – I end up climbing 4′ – 5 ‘ hills of ice and snow at every intersection. Even though I haven’t been working out like I was, I am still getting quite a bit of exercise. And I have to say, it has been a beautiful winter. Usually by now all the snowbanks are grungy and black and the streets are nasty, but this year everything is still as pretty as a Christmas card.

I’ve slowly been getting back in the swing of things. I’m back to making sure I get at least 15 minutes of exercise a day (over an above my hour a day dog walks) and tracking my calories with the MyFitnessPal app. I’m also trying to make sure I get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. It’s paying off, I have lost a couple of the post-holiday pounds I put on, and I am definitely feeling more energetic. I’m hoping to build on those three habits as we move into spring.

I’ve still got a lot on my plate. I am trying to figure out where to focus my attention: home, work, family, friends, writing, health… there is so much I want to do! I’m trying to find that mysterious work/life balance I’ve heard tell about, but it is like tracking down a unicorn. People talk about it, but has anyone ever actually seen it? I wonder…

Hermes Snow

Quit thinking! Let’s go for a walk!

Mamma Got a Brand New Hoop!

Guess what I bought myself?

A custom made hoop!

This is my new beauty, outfitted in the “peppermint” color scheme. I purchased it from the same lovely lady I took the hoop workshop from this fall. Last night I gave it a whirl. (HA!) I promised myself I would spend at least 10 minutes practicing. To make sure I didn’t give up too early, I set the timer on my phone for the 10 minutes. Not only did I not give up, I went on for another 10 after the timer went off!

At first I dropped it… a lot. After a bit though, it started coming back to me. At the end of 20 minutes I was ready to start trying to take steps while hooping.

Miserable failure. Once I shift my hips to take a step, the hoop hits the ground. That’s okay, it’s all part of the process. My hooping instructor could walk all around the room, keeping the hoop going the whole time. I am sure that in time, I can take a step or two!

I also ordered a new pair of ice cleats. I lost both of mine in snowbanks this last month. I’m determined to get back to exercising, at least a little every day. I need to keep moving!

 

Why the zzzzzzzsss are so Important

I write a lot about sleep, so I was fascinated by this infographic from the Huffington Post about sleep. (There is a lot more information on the website: Here’s A Horrifying Picture Of What Sleep Loss Will Do To You.)

Huffington Post Sleep

 

Not getting enough sleep is one of those things that I struggle with. I tend to be really effected when I’m shorted. I need at least 8 hours of good rest a night otherwise I am really, really grumpy. After reading this article, I have even more reasons for trying to get to bed on time!

Planning My Life – Planning My Career

signs of the futureTwo nights ago I got out a notebook and began jotting down what I want in a future career. I thought about all the things I really like about my present job… and all the things I wish were different. It was a pure brainstorming exercise – I dreamed big and didn’t try to censor myself at all.

I think people (especially us women) tend to narrow goals down to what seems “reasonable.” We don’t allow for “crazy ideas” like, oh, having something within walking distance that also pays a good salary – we expect to have to make sacrifices; one good thing or the other. We don’t allow that we really can have everything. Normally, I’m a master at this – I call it being practical or being realistic, but really, I’m scared to go for broke. Not this time! I am determined to just throw it all out there into the Universe and see what comes back. My final list was a full notebook page long!

After that, I started filling in the following pages. I’m meditating on each of the items I listed. Okay, I want “opportunities for growth” but what does that really mean? I’m putting thought into it and trying to define it for myself. If I start interviewing, I’m going to be evaluating the companies just as much as they are evaluating me. In order to be able to do that, I need to know exactly what I want in a clear and concrete way. Does that make sense?

I’ve also started fleshing out my resume. It’s a lot of work when you haven’t looked for a job for 15 years! In order not to get overwhelmed, I’m tackling it from two directions: first, in the same notebook, I started writing down my biggest accomplishments at work. I’m making a list of all the things I am most proud of – and those will become points on the resume. Secondly, I’m allotting just one half hour a day to work on the actual resume document. If I can work on it for 30 minutes and then walk away, I won’t feel frustrated. Last night I worked on it for awhile, then closed and saved the document. A couple hours later when I was laying in bed, some new thoughts came to me on what I want to include. I think that system is going to make it a lot easier than trying to dive in an knock the thing off all at once.

So, that’s where I am at! My focus on losing weight does seem to be paying off, I have dropped a couple of pounds. Now I just need to keep moving ahead!

Winter Goals

This dog loves the snow! See how much is on his muzzle?

This dog loves the snow! See how much is on his muzzle? That’s by choice.

I mentioned awhile ago that I might be going through some career changes soon. In fact, I am still happily working at the same company I’ve been at for years, but I’m getting the feeling it is time to start thinking about other things. Currently, I am making a list of priorities and deciding what it is that I really want – and what will further my career goals. I’m going to dream big and figure out what it will take to make that happen.

I’ve decided that one of the first things I will be working on is my weight. I’m still up a little higher than I want to be, and I haven’t been working out like I should. Why concentrate on my weight when I am thinking about my career? Well, when I am working out regularly, lifting weights and eating right, I feel great. I feel strong, confident, resilient, open to new challenges and taking risks. That is exactly the attitude I need to take the world by storm. Instead, I’ve been feeling complacent, lazy and unmotivated – the exact opposite of what I need!

I am not quite as enthusiastic as he is.

I am not quite as enthusiastic as he is, although I was actually smiling in this photo… not that you can tell.

Since I’ve decided to move my one year anniversary to Valentine’s Day, I also decided that for the next couple of weeks I am really going to throw myself into working out. On Sunday I walked Hermes 45 minutes in the morning and another 55 at night – through heavily snow packed sidewalks. I was going to lift Monday morning, but ended up shoveling snow for a half hour instead – which really was some serious weight lifting. (We have so much snow right now that there is nowhere to go with it – each shovelful requires an overhand throw!)

My other goal is to write as much as I can. I’m trying to figure out how much I want to divulge here on the internet, but I also know that this blog is one of the things that helps me focus. So, you’ll probably be hearing a lot about what I am thinking and going through.

For right now my goals are:

  • Get back to 135 – 133 lb. range. That’s where I feel the best.
  • Put together a list of the skills I have – and the ones I wish I had.
  • Do some brainstorming about future careers. What do I really want to be when I grow up?
  • Write regularly, if not every day, then as close to it as I can.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

More Thoughts on a Magic Exercise Pill

These would be a thing of the past...

These would be a thing of the past…

After I wrote the post about the magic pill yesterday, I found myself continuing to thinking about it later. I’ve come to a new conclusion: I think if such a pill were invented, more people would exercise, not less. Just in case you missed my post yesterday, here is the thought experiment that Caitlyn at Fit and Feminist posed:

and so I wondered, if medical researchers were to develop a pill that could provide all the physical health benefits of regular exercise, and that pill had no side effects, and it was as inexpensive as a bottle of aspirin – would I still continue to be as physically active as I am? [...]

First of all, I think nearly everyone would take this pill. Oh, there would be a few holdouts, there always are, but if there was a pill that would allow people to either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, plus gave all the all the other physical benefits of exercise, that would be reason enough – even for the naturally thin and healthy. The question though is, would people still exercise, and I think not only would they still exercise, far more people would give it a try.

I mean, we all know exercise is good for us, so why don’t we do it? In my opinion the big three reasons are 1) It’s boring, 2) I’m not motivated enough and 3) the inner rebel that hates to do anything we “have to do.” There are other reasons of course, but I’d say these are some of the most common. Now, let’s introduce the magic pill:

Boredom: I think the very first thing to go would be repetitive exercise, (except in specific situations.) Things that people dread because they are monotonous: the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bikes and so on would start to die out almost immediately. The exception would be training tools for athletes, hard core cyclists might still use trainer bikes, runners might still use treadmills in bad weather and so on. But overall? These things would become the next buggy whip.

Gyms would have to start changing their strategy. Right now they succeed in part because people feel they “should” go. If you take away the “should” you are going to have to make it so that people “want” to go. How can you do that? By making it fun. Of the exercise I said I would keep doing, one of the biggest reasons was because it is fun. I think Crossfit gyms understand this. They have elements of friend competition and badassery that make it fun. I can think of lots of ways Gyms could become more fun. So… if they make exercise fun, then it becomes fun to exercise, not boring.

I’m Not Motivated Enough: I think there are two levels of motivation here. There is the, “Meh. I don’t really feel like going for a run today,” sort of malaise that even elite athletes feel sometimes, and then there are the huge debilitating factors that those who are overweight face. I’m not concerned about the “meh” factor too much, I’ll talk about why in the next point. What I want to talk about is how hard it is to exercise when you are overweight.

Now, we all know that no matter where people are or how they feel, they can do some form of exercise. However, in order to do so may involve dealing with public shame, physical disabilities, and limited access. This is why anyone who is overweight and gets out there and exercises is an automatic bad ass and my hero. Let’s break this down a bit and look at it a little closer:

Public shame: Working out when you are out of shape and overweight can be embarrassing. I’ve been told that people at the gym really don’t pay attention to other people and everyone is there to deal with their own stuff. That may be perfectly true, but really, it doesn’t matter. There is a reason that all of my exercise (especially when I first started) was done alone, at home. If we had a pill that could help everyone get to more or less the same healthy body weight, this shame could be lifted.

Physical disabilities: Being overweight can make it really, really hard to work out. I wasn’t that overweight, (5’6”, 170+ lbs) but even for me, it was difficult. Here’s a kind of embarrassing example: I’ve mentioned before that at my heavier weight I was pretty busty. That means that any sort of activity that involved running or jumping was not only awkward, but really uncomfortable. It’s a small silly example, but you can see where I am going. Folks with weight issues also frequently have other medical problems that make exertion hard. Again, to use myself as an example, I have had asthma since I was a child. While I still have it, it has definitely improved since taking off 35+ pounds. Take these examples and extrapolate out – and you see why I think people with weight issues who work out are bad asses!

But wait, there’s more!

Limited access: Do you know what kayaking, rock climbing, biking, gymnastics and skiing all have in common? They are great exercise, lots of fun …and they have weight limitations. Many other sports don’t have specific weight limits, but they are there nonetheless. I’m thinking of things like group sports. Sure, there might not be a specific rule, but that line is there anyway. The magic pill would eliminate it. Sure, some folks (like myself) would still be uncoordinated and lousy at sports, but they wouldn’t be uncomfortable trying them due to their body shape. I’ll tell you, I really dislike group sports, but you would have a much better chance at talking me into a game of volleyball now than you would have 35 some odd pounds ago.

The inner rebel: We all have an inner James Dean that hates the idea of doing anything we “have to” do. But if we take away the guilt with the magic pill, we make gyms and other recreational activities fun and accessible to all, this just disappears. Not everyone is going to run out and start doing Crossfit or take a Kickboxing class, but all the folks who have always been curious about it but afraid, now can jump in.

I know the magic pill is just a thought experiment, but what a wonderful thing that would be for everyone.

Photo credit: Holiday Inn Express on flickr