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Showing posts from 2019

Which is Really More Excessive - Tracking Calories or Chronic Overeating

Most people who know me know that I started tracking my calories daily back in August of 2016. I had put on quite a bit of weight that year and to keep a long story short, after being convinced I must have a twenty pound tumor inside of me, after 16 weeks of consistent tracking and staying in a deficit I was down almost thirty pounds. Turns out, the fault was mine!

In the three years since I have kept most of that weight off. This year I gained a few pounds back almost certainly due to sloppy tracking. A bite here, a lick here, a taste there, and I put about seven pounds back on. In the last 5 weeks I have tightened up the process and I am now down 10lbs, easily and without having to work out any more often - in fact, I may actually be logging fewer active minutes a week.

I have been told that it is "excessive" to count calories - that it is a pain in the butt, too time consuming, too difficult, in short just "too much." But the only thing that is really "too …

Day Zero Project Update - This is the Final Countdown!

As anyone who has read some of my previous posts will remember, back in March 2017 I signed up at DayZeroProject to create a "101 Things to do in 1001 Days" list. The mission of this website is to be an "online community for people who love creating lists, setting challenges, and making positive changes in their lives."

If that sums up any person, it is me!

I used this list to serve two ultimate purposes in terms of helping me grow and get out of my comfort zone.

1. I set really challenging goals in some areas that are truly important to me (finishing my master's degree, maintaining and expanding my fitness level, achieving goals within my career and finances) in order to keep me accountable to those ideals and push toward them.
2. I set some fun goals that are sort of out of the box for me to try new things, be lighthearted and expand my horizons (learning new recipes, completing my genealogy, taking a painting class, going to museums and celebrating milestone…

Closing Out a Decade

It is crazy that this didn't occur to me until very recently, but in two months, we are closing out a decade. When we look back we think of the 80's or 90's or 00's nostalgically, remembering the iconic moments in both society and our personal lives that really marked that decade.

As we roll into the 20's, I cannot believe how far I have come in these last ten years (the 10's? It sounds weird). Going into 2010, I had been living in my current house for less than a year, had held my green card for less than a year. I think 2010 or 2011 was when I first joined the gym where I started taking cardio dance and then Body Pump. 2011 was the last time I visited my hometown.

In 2012 I got promoted into my first leadership role. I enrolled in university to finish my bachelor's degree. 2012 was the year we made the final decision not to further pursue efforts to become pregnant and accepted our situation (to which I am very thankful!).

In 2013, I turned 30 and I feel …

In 6 Months From Today

I recently watched a video online from a health coach that reiterated some good advice that my husband has given me over the years. He basically stated that time is going to pass whether you use it wisely or not. We will wake up six months from now and either have made progress or not, but the time will pass either way.

My husband basically said the same thing when I was deciding whether to pursue my master's degree. I said, "But I will be turning 35 before I finish it." And he said, "You'll turn 35 with or without the degree. The time will pass. Do you want it?"

That made it easy.

In six months from today it will be April 25th. Spring will be in full swing. Perhaps by then you'll have had a birthday. A new decade will be upon us. What are your goals?

If you save $250/month for 6 months, you'll have $1500.

If you lose 1 pound a week for 6 months, you'll lose roughly 24 pounds.

They say with proper discipline, certain languages can be learned con…

Why I Love Sports (In General)

It is no secret that people can often be stunningly disappointing. When you think about working in groups at either school or work, you often think about people letting you down, not pulling their weight, not collaborating well, or not finishing in a timely manner.

Not to be a pessimist, but this is simply the experience many of us have faced when working in teams with people.

When I think of people trying to do something in cohesion where chaos ultimately ensues, I can always use two illustrations.

The first is traffic. If there is a car burning on the side of the road, or an accident, or any other situation out of the ordinary, normal people in traffic become erratic, unreliable and unreasonable. The thing you can almost certainly depend on is that someone will take their eyes off what they are doing, get distracted, and cause another accident.

The second example is people lining up for food. I think of work functions, a line forms, becomes disorderly, there is impatience, there is …

Creating a New Normal

I've had this conversation a few times in the last few weeks and felt like it made a good broader discussion. It came up because last month I rejoined Instagram and of course, friends soon started recommending the funny meme pages that I needed to follow.

I won't lie, some of them are pretty funny. But what I realized very quickly is how all of this tries to normalize self destructive behaviors such procrastination, excessive over eating, binge drinking, being late, poor sleep habits, etc.

I saw it mirrored in the behaviors of some people I care about, a friend of mine joking that that he is overweight and yet persists in overeating. A joke as if it is funny that obesity as we age is funny - when he has a family depending on him. Followed up with a funny meme or two, he thinks he has normalized a situation that deep down depresses him.

However, aside from the funny meme pages, I also started following a few highly successful entrepreneurs and a dozen or so incredibly fit indiv…

Review: Downton Abbey Movie (no spoilers)

About a month ago I excitedly pre-ordered my tickets to see the Downton Abbey movie, and last week was the big day. The theater was completely full, which stood out because I cannot remember the last time that theater was totally sold out.
There were women there dressed up with fascinators in their hair, and other women clearly having a girls' night in large groups. My husband and sister went with me, and my husband was one of maybe 5 men in the theater, which always surprises me because the men I know love the show!
I went into the movie with hesitation because the series was so well done that you always worry they will jump the shark, so to speak, in an effort to milk a good thing. However, I also didn't go in cynically, so I was hesitant but hopeful that the movie would be a delight.
Whereas the TV series is like the long unwinding of a great epic novel, where the subplots slowly twist together and you learn about the characters over long periods of time, the movie was more…

Celebrating my Anniversary - 13 Years of Marriage

In the next week, my husband and I will celebrate thirteen years of marriage. I don't feel like it's been an especially long time, but it hasn't been short either. When I think about us both at age twenty-three on our wedding day, and now, I realize that together we have achieved a lot, and overcome a lot, and we have built a household that thrives on laughter and uncontrived happiness.

We've been married thirteen years, but he'd known me for almost 7 years before he contracted himself to me by law (I was 16 when he met me). He knew what he was getting into on our wedding day. The day we got married, I was literally an illegal immigrant in this country, unable to work and no longer eligible for school. As if that already doesn't sound like a great bet to take, he knew everything else too - that I can be an exhibitionist, that I am mischievous as hell, crass, a bad cook and a worse driver. He knew my neatness bordered on pathological, that I was both rebellious …

My Objection to Closing the Door on Healthy Debate

I have been troubled lately by friends and acquaintances who refuse to discuss politics with me - perhaps because I am a "crazy" third party voter, or perhaps because I come to every discussion perfectly equipped with sources and facts - and they yet share things on social media that I find borderline offensive in some ways. But they don't want me to broach the subjects with them, as they believe it will harm our friendship. But somehow they think it will not harm the friendship to post these openly and yet close the door on healthy debate.

I am indeed a "foolish third party voter" - I do indeed "waste" my vote by believing in change, a different track and breaking free of a two party system where I believe the two parties aren't truly that different from one another. However, once long ago, I was a conservative that supported the Republican party, because I believed that party was most aligned with the values of freedom and personal responsibilit…

Myers Briggs Type Indicator - Communicating Better

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At some point during my time in university, as part of my leadership courses, we were asked to take the Myers Briggs (MBTI) test, which asks some questions to determine a little about your personality type, how you communicate, and how you see the world.

This is not a test meant to put people into boxes. It is meant to shed a some light on how we might better communicate with one another after understanding them and ourselves a little better. It's not a road map to our lives; it's a mirror to ourselves and a window to others, allowing for better understanding between people.

There are a few places to take this test online, the official MBTI test is here, which is what I took while in school, or also this one that is a little more engaging and fun!  What you'll surmise quickly is that there are 16 different types and it comes down to four letters.  My type: ISTP (introverted-sensing-thinking-perceiving).


This image helps a bit understanding the different components of how t…

I Was Nearly Killed by a Drunk Driver

It's pretty much common sense to agree people shouldn't drink and drive. Yet, people do and if you pull up your county bookings online (public record) you can find people are getting charged with this everyday.

My family has been wrought with the pain and consequences of this. My mom has buried more than one family member due to someone else on the road driving while intoxicated. And last week, it could have been me she had to bury.
It was Friday evening, it was around 8:30pm and the sun was inching closer to the horizon. I was listening to my music while out for my workout. I was on my normal circuit for five miles, enjoying the evening.
Unexpectedly, a driver coming toward me ran off the road, popped his tire and didn't stop, hit the curb again, popped another tire, and slammed full blast into a light pole, taking the light pole down. The only thing that prevented the pole from crashing into the roof of his vehicle was it got snagged on a power line, which was now dangli…

Gaining Confidence with Age

The past few weeks I have been engaged in some training initiatives for my new role at work. This training has involved a lot of new material and experiences and has required me to interact with tons of people I don't know and from business segments to which I am still pretty unfamiliar. When I got home from work last night, after a long week or learning, interacting and so much socialization, I told my sister that it is hard to imagine myself ten or fifteen years ago having the confidence to do this.
It led into an interesting discussion about confidence increasing with years. I have always been a confident person, even when I have been the underdog, even when I have been openly disparaged for my beliefs or opinions (I think back to a project in my high school economics class were I proposed privatization of health care and education - I was ridiculed). However, I have always been very comfortable in these situations and therefore I was confident.
And that led me to the realizati…

My Changing Perspective on Environmentalism

In my youth and early adulthood, I gave very little concern to the environment. I didn't trouble myself over people who littered, or my excessive consumption of single use plastic. I didn't worry about what pesticides did to the ecosystem. I didn't care. 
Even in high school and on college campuses, when the young people were such staunch advocates of a pro-environmentally friendly agenda, I wasn't swayed. These people also had very liberal economic ideas that I disagreed with, and truthfully, I worried that by aligning myself with their environmental views I'd be perceived as being another young liberal college student, when in fact in my early adulthood I was staunchly conservative.
Perhaps I should be ashamed of my slow progress toward a more enlightened view on the environment, but there is no shame in telling the truthful story about progress. I was ignorant about where I stood as a young person, due in some part to the manipulative messaging by the media and …

The Funny Way I Learned to be Resourceful

I was having an amusing recollection the other night, discussing with my mom how sensitive I am to my house being untidy.  I know precisely what needs to be done, and I truly have trouble sleeping if I know there are dishes piled up in the sink!

My husband does not share this problem. He is very content, very comfortable whether the house is spotless or a little untidy. However, if we have a cupboard door in need of repair or something wrong with an appliance, it bothers him tremendously. A duct-tape solution does not appease him, he wants a true fix. And it is funny to me that I am not troubled by those things.

I remember the house I grew up in very well. It was less than 1000 square feet, one functional bathroom, 6 people in the house. Cramped quarters is an understatement. The house was built in the 1930s and had all the beautiful charms of a pre-WWII home, with stucco and archways and high windows. It also, however, wasn't built for modern inventions such as dishwashers or hig…

Fearing Boredom More Than Change

I'm about to make a career change at work that is unlike anything I have tried before.  I am leaving the side of the business where I have established myself for ten years, where I have made connections and learned functions and developed different skills, and I am moving into a sales role.

Ten years ago, it would have been mind boggling to me to even consider such a change. I have always felt that I was far too wired for internal business, learning and working inside of operations. However, in the last few years I have worked more and more closely with our sales team, built relationships with them and seen how they work, and I began to speculate if this was something I could enjoy. Where hard work could result in personal reward, where I could be, in a small way, the master of my own fate.  I see my sister do this and excel and I became curious and very open to the idea.

I have recently had some change within the function I have been working within in my current role and it had f…

Review: Aladdin 2019

I am not a movie buff by any means, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the new Aladdin movie that is currently in theaters. Prior to seeing it myself, I had seen some reviews, some good but some pretty bad.

Full disclosure, the 1992 animated version of Aladdin is one of my all time favorite movies - probably in my top 3.  So I went into this reboot with excitement and also the fear that it would ruin both movies for me!

The original Aladdin's great triumph is of course the amazing talent of Robin Williams as the Genie. You realize how uniquely important his talent was when you watch the sequel movie The Return of Jafar. His replacement for Genie in this movie is none other than Dan Castellaneta, renowned of The Simpsons - however, even his talent cannot bring Genie to life the way Robin Williams does.

So, how difficult it must have been for Will Smith to step into the live action shoes of the Genie, where he is not only the voice but the face of a character originally made famou…

Undisciplined Morning Routines?

I recently read an article on Forbes that made me scoff repeatedly throughout, an article about the importance of establishing a morning routine. I am often curious about the daily routines of successful people; what they read and when they exercise, and so on. It can only help me find inspiration to improve my own routines. However, this particular article made me roll my eyes at how terribly undisciplined adults have become.

The article talks about tips for making sure you get yourself out of bed on time every day, including having a bed time routine. Adults must be told this?  I require my own epiphany on this topic, which occurred when I was in the 11th grade. Actually, I knew it long before this, but I had a defining experience in chemistry class early one morning in 11th grade and caused me to commit to a disciplined bedtime routine.

I had worked late the night before, and had come home wanting to wind down a bit before I went to bed. I woke up for school the next morning on so …

What Motivates Me

We all need money to make a living.  I have bills to pay and I am blessed that I have never had to default on my bills (despite difficult times).  I have my personal preferences for brands - I do not buy a lot but I like to buy nice things: brand name sunglasses and perfume.  I even have a side hustle (more on that later!) where I have a lot of fun making a little extra money.

But money is not what motivates me.  In most instances, for me money is the necessity to make a living.  I am economical, easy to please and good at managing my resources.  My entire living room is furnished with hand me down furniture that I mixed and matched to make a comfy home.  I buy my jeans and dresses on eBay.  I cook at home.  I live simply and therefore do not require a ton of money to make a happy life.

In the workplace, leaders are always trying to find ways to motivate their employees and for many people tangible incentives and money are the primary motivators.  When budgets are tight, that is diffi…

A Letter to Sixteen Year Old Me

Dear Sixteen Year Old Me,

I know life is awful.  You are unpopular and often ridiculed.  People say things like "high school is the best time of your life" and you worry that if this is the best then what hell is going to happen next.  You are berated and picked on for your looks, your interests, even your work ethic.  The boys you like never like you back.  You work long hours after work, which almost saves you from having to explain having no social life.  Sometimes even against your nature, you cry before school because it's such a misery to you.

You won't believe it, but in the years to come, this will be a small blip in your rear view mirror.  You will grow and thrive in adult situations, having been prepared for this throughout your childhood.  You will leave high school a capable person, academically accomplished but also with a practical knowledge about the world that will give you peace of mind.

You are counting the days until school is over, but your educat…

Signs of Cultural Decline in the Workplace

It is surprising to me that sometimes organizational leaders are unaware that they are tolerating (or have created) a toxic culture.  I recognize that senior leaders are not mired in the weeds on a day to day basis and they perhaps don't get enough face time with people to see the early decline in morale, but the signs of a bad culture can sometimes be spotted by just looking around.

I've had discussions about this with leaders within my organization as well as outside of it.  Someone once made a comment about the state of the bathrooms and my first reaction was, "people who are proud of where they work don't do that."

I made the comment off the cuff and sort of flippantly but the more I think about it the more I realize that it is true.  There are a lot of things people do in their behaviors or the way they present themselves and their work spaces that indicate they do not have any pride in their job.

Disgruntled employees can be occasional.  Every workplace has…

An Immigration Story

Seventeen years ago today, I moved to the United States; an immigrant filled with hope and uncertainty!

I feel grateful that in these times of political turmoil over immigration that I am a libertarian and uncommitted to the staunch political ideals of Democrats and Republicans on the immigration issue.

We discuss immigration often in terms of statues, laws, permits and authorizations and we forget the humanity that lives behind those documents, sometimes in fear.  I may not necessarily look the part of a struggling immigrant, but I too have felt that fear.

From a theoretical perspective, I believe in an ordered method for documenting who is in the country.  We should know who is here.  I also believe many of the laws we have in place, even those in place to show compassion to those who came here as children, fail to provide a final solution to the immigration problem.  This leaves many people feeling like they have no other home, and yet no path to citizenship in this country where t…

My Father's Father - The Influence of Other Generations

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I was born in the early 1980s, making me an early millennial (or perhaps a Xennial if you subscribe to this theory of a subjoining micro generation between generation X and the millennials).  I don't demonstrate many of the characteristics associated with millenials, and sometimes I wonder how I came by some of the positions that I currently hold - a modern woman in a modern world, but with some very traditional ideas.  Many millennials were born to generation Xers, but my parents are both baby boomers.

My father was born immediately after WWII.  His dad was a laborer throughout the war, possibly as a civilian in the armed forces.  As soon as the chaos of the war period died down, in the enthusiasm of peacetime, he celebrated with his wife and she conceived, probably rather unexpectedly, as she was 41 years old when my dad was born.

My dad's father and mother were born in 1904 and 1905, respectively.  They were married in 1930 and had a few children through the the thirties, t…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part Four

Any acknowledgement of the strong women in my life would be incomplete without mentioning the strongest influence I have had in this: my mom.

Growing up, I think I felt like everyone had a life and parents like mine.  We didn't have a lot of money, I figured no one did.  My parents were fairly strict but also easy going, I thought everyone's were.  My family faced a lot of hardships with my dad's health, but my mom always remained so calm that I thought this was just normal.  It wasn't until I was in my pre-teens I think that I started realizing that my family was odd!

My mom had a difficult upbringing, to understate it.  She did not grow up the way I did, in a secure and loving home, having some degree of certainty.  As a little girl when my mom would challenge me to try things I remember thinking to myself, "my mom would never let anything bad happen to me."  I don't believe my mom grew up with this same confidence.

Of course, the woman I know as my mom…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part Three

Continuing in my series about strong women, I am focusing on a woman today that I have only recently been blessed to know.  I actually hired this woman six months ago, and I sometimes wonder if in my long working life to come if I will always look back on hiring her as one of my wisest choices.

She is a young woman, newly married, an expectant mother.  Like me, she is also an immigrant to this country.  Like me, she was raised to be a contributor.  Not even yet six months with the company, she has long been independent and rising to the expectations.  She takes on new tasks and challenges, she figures out who she needs to talk to, she communicates effectively, closes the loop.  She makes my life easier when I don't have to worry about things being handled correctly.

I think of many women I have known that are my age and younger, many of whom have a certain millennial sense of entitlement.  I have seen many women in this age group whine (literally) that they are "too young&quo…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part Two

I continue to reflect on the strong women that I know and who have influenced and inspired me.  As I examine these women they share certain traits but in other ways they are dramatically different.

Today I am reflecting on my best friend.  In some ways, she is a feisty, opinionated, outspoken woman who isn't afraid to express herself.  In others, she is soft, compassionate and serves others.

She is a hard worker and a provider for her family, but not in a traditional sense.  She takes care of others, though she is a single woman with no children.  She has chosen this freely, empowered not to feel burdened to live up to someone else's expectation of womanhood.  She takes pleasure in being an aunt - a cool and indulgent aunt, helping influence the children she is around to grow up to be funny, capable, confident adults.

She excels at what she does in her career, being sought for promotions rather than seeking them.  She isn't afraid of early mornings or long hours, and I som…

Spotlighting the Strong Women in My Life - Part One

I have been reflecting how fortunate I have been to know and be influenced by so many strong women in my life - and men that support and empower those women as well.  As a woman, I am very supportive of true female equality.  I do not tend to embrace all of the modern aspects of the feminist movement, but I am aligned with the traditional tenets of female equality.  I believe men and women are different in many ways, in necessary ways, that in teams and friendships and families those differences complement one another.

Strong women are not always the same, but they share certain traits.  Resiliency, adaptability, personal accountability, true kindness (and not superficial 'sweetness') are some of those threads that seem to be common throughout the strong women I know.

I want to shine a light on those women, as they have inspired me and influenced me, and continue daily to make an impact on my life.

The first woman I thought of when thinking about this series of posts was a wom…