Saturday, December 17, 2011
"Your problem just became your stepping stone. Catch the moment."
-fortune from the fortune cookie that came with my dinner last night at work
I had been in a very unhappy place with my work over the past couple of years. There had been change-over in middle management and we were getting micromanaged left and right. We were getting shorted hours when we were supposed to be getting full-time hours and a lot of employees (including myself) ended up in financial crisis. Morale throughout my workplace tanked. Several people quit. Because people were unhappy, work ethic decreased and several good employees got fired. My power-tripping “supervisor” has been writing people up for minor infarctions. Needless to say, I had been job-hunting and applied for several other jobs. I was only offered 2 interviews, which I declined because they were for lower-paying positions at the companies to which I was applying. Needless to say, I have not had any luck finding a new job. I wasn’t going to quit my current job without having another job, but I kept hoping to get fired so I could collect unemployment. I wanted to get fired even if it meant losing my house. I hated my job that much.
Although I was still keeping an eye out for other jobs, I kept hoping that things would go back to being the way they were at this job. It used to be like coming home to come to work and I looked forward to seeing my tight-knit group of co-workers. While I am still not happy with our middle management (including my immediate “supervisor”), I have maintained respect for our company’s founders. The 4 men who started my company had a vision of a workplace with happy employees that were more like family than co-workers, where people came before profit, and where work did not encompass our entire lives. I had felt over the past 2 years that they had drifted away from this vision, but I believe they are coming back around. I felt like they had stopped caring about things like employees having enough hours and the quality of life with working here; when they stopped caring, the employees stopped caring, too.
However, there have been several recent positive changes. I will get to start working from home over the next couple of weeks, which is something I am very much looking forward to. With my introverted personality, I have a hard time being in our loud call center. It was one of the company's founders (our vice president and the person I consider to be my real boss) who decided I could work from home. Despite having given me a final warning because people have been nitpicking about petty crap, I think he saw a level of backstabbing in all of the tattling that was unacceptable. I am glad to know he values me enough to allow me to work from home and be removed from this environment. It is not cheap to set someone up from their house, so I appreciate the opportunity.
I was also concerned about having enough hours over the winter. Our call volumes tend to drop some during the winter and there tends to be less shifts available. This used to mean that many full-time employees would be severely shorted on hours. I can tolerate a pretty bad job as long as I know there is a steady paycheck, but the financial disaster brought about by being shorted last year made me hate my job even more. When we got our most recent schedule, I saw that I had been shorted almost every week. I marched into my boss's offoce, prepared to demand the proper number of hours. I asked him what I could do to make up for the shortage of hours, and he instantly responded that I could just log on to take calls whenever I wanted to assure I had a full 40 hour work week.
"Oh...okay. Thanks." Having fought tooth and nail for even the most basic respect at this job over the past couple of years, I was very happy to know that at the very least I will have steady and predictable income.
We ordered Chinese food at work last night. Since we are actually adequately staffed now, we had time to actually eat and enjoy our food. The calls are properly dispersed throughout the call center, and I am not taking nearly as many calls about human exposures because now they have staffed us with more EMTs and paramedics. We also have more veterinary staff so that we are not so overloaded with animal calls. I am able to focus almost exclusively on animal calls and putting my emergency and critical care skills to work. Yesterday at work was actually--*GASP*--a good day.
I am glad that it is getting back to the point where I am happier with my job.I am excited to work from home and hope that reduces my stress even more. I can’t fix all the micromanaging, but no job is perfect. I just wanted at least 1 positive thing to say about my job, and it was very disheartening to not be able to think of anything good for an extended period of time. I help save animals for a living, so I want my job to feel fulfilling--it certainly should be. I have not enjoyed feeling so apathetic over the past 2 years or so. Having a basic level of satisfaction with my job again has removed a very dark cloud that has been looming over me; my life feels much richer.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
I've started writing out a more formal workout plan and wanted to start posting it on my blog as a way of journaling progress and for accountability. I will normally do this on Sundays before my "workout week" begins on Monday.
This week looks like this:
Cathe Friedrich High-Intensity Interval Training 40/20 DVD (40 second intervals with 20 second rest)
Upper Body Strength
Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai
Lower Body Strength
Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai
Endurance Weights Circuit
Muay Thai sparring
Kettlebells (DVD) and an abdominal workout
I will be doing yoga on Jiu Jitsu/Muay Thai days before I go to the gym. I'll also do a 10 minute jump rope warm-up on Jiu Jitsu/Muay Thai days right before class (2 minute jump rope intervals with 1 minute rest). The jump rope will help create some explosive power and increase my aerobic endurance (which is actually not that great right now).
I have been writing my strength workouts and I will be doing a program utilizing nonlinear (undulating) periodization. This means that I will be changing my program constantly. In my rotation, the workouts will vary from workout-to-workout (versus week-to-week or month-to-month). I will be doing 1 upper body split and 1 lower body split each week, and these workouts will vary the most in the methods performed. I will be doing 1 cardio-based strength circuit each week that utilizes more plyometric exercises (explosive motions such as jumping) to increase muscle endurance and power. Then I will do a day of Olympic lifts, which will help build strength and power.
For now, the upper and lower body splits will focus on building muscle hypertrophy (increasing muscle size) as well as some muscular endurance. The split workouts will be performed in the 12 repetition max (12 RM) range, meaning lifting to failure (or very close to it) at the 12th repetition. Working in the 12-15 RM range focuses on building muscular endurance, while 8-12 RM increases hypertrophy. I decided on 12 RM for the next several weeks to work at the high end of the hypertrophy range and work on endurance at the same time. Since both Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai will help with endurance, I am not inclined to go above 12 RM for weight-lifting; I want to lift weights to build strength to complement my MMA training.
My upper body workout this week was fairly simple and straightforward and did not utilize any particular special methods as I will in subsequent weeks. It was as follows; I also listed the weights I used:
Unless otherwise noted:
2 x 12 RM (2 sets each of 12 repetitions) at 2-0-2 tempo (2 counts up, 0 count pause, 2 counts down); 1 minute rest between sets
*Barbell Rows 60 lbs
*Supermans ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=8szJuzPt-sg )
*Chest Press 60 lbs
*Incline Chest Press 20 lb dumbbells
*Biceps Curls 40 lbs
*Hammer Curls 15 lb dumbbells
*Concentration Biceps Curls (1 set, 8 RM, 2-0-6) 15 lb dumbbells
*Skullcrushers ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_KZxkY_0cM --he uses an E-Z curl bar, I used 15 lb dumbbells; the motion is the same holding a dumbbell in each hand)
*Overhead Press 15 lb dumbbells
*Medial Deltoid Raise 12 lb dumbbells
*Posterior Deltoid Raise 10 lb dumbbells
*Shoulder Shrugs ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIpWv_G5Q0Y ) 40 lbs
My lower body workout was a similar format to my upper body workout, and again is pretty simple (no special methods used). I also tacked on some core exercises:
Unless otherwise noted:
2 x 12 RM (2 sets each of 12 repetitions) at 2-0-2 tempo (2 counts up, 0 count pause, 2 counts down); 1 minute rest between sets
*Deadlifts 90 lbs
*Squats 60 lbs
*Reverse Lunges 40 lbs
*Plie Squats 40 lbs
*Step-ups 30 lbs
*Leg Extension (machine) 50 lbs
*Hip Sled (leg press machine) 90 lbs
* Pilates Roll Over ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=stgt8
qIjIoU&feature=related )--I think this one will really help my Jiu Jitsu!
*Glute-Hamstring Developer Back Extensions ( vimeo.com/22687897 )--yikes, killer!
*Glute Hamstring Developer Sit-ups ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnQB_
jr2T-c )--yeeeow, super killer! I would recommend going over glute-hamstring developer exercises with a trainer before trying them
*Russian Twist ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCB3kxqhbuY )
*Planks (prone and side; hold for 30 seconds each and repeat once)
My endurance strength circuit this week is going to be relatively easy, at least compared to what I have written for the next couple of weeks.
These workouts look somewhat like a cardio circuit, and will utilize lighter weights or body weight. These workouts are mostly time-based and I won't be lifting to failure:
Unless otherwise noted: 30 seconds each exercise, repeat each round twice, then 1 minute rest before next set
Step-ups with overhead press
Wall Squats with stability ball
Plie Squats with stability ball
Leg Lifts ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VTU1jVkCMg )
Kettlebell Swing ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0jalJ-3e7U )--demonstrated by Lauren Brooks; I highly recommend her DVDs
Jump Rope--Tabata (20 sec. hard--10 sec. rest x 8)
Renegade Rows ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggaj8hB0BUY )
Kettlebell Chop Lunge ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggaj8hB0BUY )
Muay Thai Knee-to-Armpit Drill 3 minutes ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QxLZtS3hGU )--for the drill, we repeatedly do the blocking motion while bringing the knee as close to the armpit as possible; really feel this in the hips and obliques
Finally, I will do a workout of Olympic lifts with heavy weights. I will probably use about 100 pounds for most of the lifts, except for deadlifts for which I will use 165 pounds, and the Power Snatch for which I will use perhaps 50 pounds. I know these weights sound very heavy but I am, as my exercise physiology professor put it when I was tested in the lab, "abnormally strong." I only worked with my trainer Ty for a couple of weeks on these, and felt I only had minimal training during that time, but fortunately a lot of the guys at the gym are very experienced with Olympic lifts and Crossfit to help me practice. I will perform more reps and use heavier weights as I master the moves. This week I will do 3 sets of 3 repetitions each with 2 minutes rest in between sets:
Hang Clean ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpXqVba1mFo )
Power Clean ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TlbDQUWs0s )
Push Press ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6oQLMcTGTo )
Power Snatch ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nc4DpIzns8 )
Snatch Squat ( www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TuMlkkgX4E )
So, that is my workout plan for the week. I can feel the sweat pouring already...
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I loved the blog post by CHRISTINA791 today about the fear of being noticed at the gym and why we should all get over it. How many of us have steered clear of the gym, afraid that someone may *gasp* look at us? I couldn't think of a better way to put it:
"So those words and judgements, the cruel jabs and middle school taunts that you imagine? Those are probably coming from the other side of the mirror. Tell it to shut up."
People noticed CHRISTINA791--specifically, they've noticed how fit she has become. All because she kept showing up and keeping at it.
Check it out:
Sunday, December 11, 2011
"Let us, if we must have great actions, make our own so. All action is of infinite elasticity, and the least admits of being inflated with celestial air, until it eclipses the sun and moon."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I was sick most of this past week with a very bad cold. I turned into a huge baby. I did nothing but sleep and then get up and go to work. I slept for at least 12 hours each day. Although it would have been justifiable to call into work, they make it very difficult to do so and threaten your job if you do. So, I showed up everyday and sneezed and coughed all over the office where my "supervisor" who acts like an amped-up 6th grade hall monitor would sap up plenty of germs. I almost dozed off between calls. I was a little worried about driving home from being so tired. My sinuses and ears were painful. But I downed my raw garlic, green tea, cayenne pepper, and cold medicine in hopes of driving this virus out as fast as possible.
Almost as fast as it had come on last Saturday night, my energy started to return yesterday while I was at work. When I got home, I felt great. I could breathe through my nose, I wasn't coughing, and only have mild sinus congestion. I think my body was so excited to feel better that I couldn't fall asleep. In retrospect, I should have tried drinking some valerian tea or something, but I laid in bed restlessly trying to doze off. Before I knew it, it was 6:00 a.m. and I still had not fallen asleep. I turned over and the moon was shining brightly through my window. I remembered that the lunar eclipse was going to start soon. Having always been fascinated by astronomy and all things in the sky (after all, my original college major was astronomy), I try to catch celestial events whenever possible. The skies remind me that however large my problems may seem, we are all part of a beautiful universe of which we all have equal access.
The moon was mottled through my window, but I could still see the Earth's shadow starting to creep across the surface. I don't know how long I watched the eclipse, but the next thing I knew, it was daylight. I couldn't ask for anything more spectacular than drifting off to a celestial dance. I finally felt rested.
Image from http://news.nationalgeographic.com
I never realize how truly energetic I am until that energy is sapped. Most of my days are packed with activities, and I bounce between them with the energy of a Pit Bull puppy. However, my ability to stay positive continues to be challenged, especially by my financial situation. Although I am not in the financial crisis that I was in last year, I am having more and more difficulty keeping up on bills and now have no leeway or cushion anywhere. I am going to try to do a home loan modification through my bank, and if they won't help, then looking at the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) program that would make my mortgage no more than 31% of my income. Right now my house payment is 50% of my income. I will be looking into the pros and cons of the HAMP program, but as I said, I am running out of viable options. I am also going to look into consolidating my credit cards through a reputable social services agency to help decrease the amount I am paying each month for credit cards. I am kicking myself over the credit card debt, but for over a year I feel I had no other choice between the cut in my hours at work and inadequate financial aid through school. Once these cards are paid off, I am not going to use credit cards again (and I shouldn't have the need). I have been resistant to doing debt consolidation or modifying my mortgage because I am concerned about surprises with such programs, but I no longer have any options. More than 90% of my income goes towards bills alone, and I continue to have less and less money for groceries and neccesities. I am thinking about asking Nate, my gym's owner, if he would be interested in having me do massage at the gym, and I think he might be open to that. If I can offer them for a good price, I think a lot of members would be interested. Needless to say, I am going to want to have a hot new wardrobe when I reach my goal weight, so I want to start saving now.
I did not work out all week. Nada. Nothing. Zilch. No workouts at home, no Muay Thai or Jiu Jitsu. There certainly was not a point in driving my already exhausted body over the edge, so I did what it asked and slept as much as possible. I don't like not being able to work out, but I don't get neurotic about it like I used to a few years ago when I was doing Muay Thai and triathlons. Now I have a healthier attitude if I can't work out, and actually savor the rest time as much as I enjoy working out. I felt better yesterday, so I did do a workout, Chalean Extreme's Burn Intervals. It felt great to work out again. I wasn't thrown off by the change in routine of being sick and being unable to work out. I seamlessly slipped back into my routine. I will be going to Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai tomorrow. I'm looking forward to getting back to the gym. I also have written some strength training workouts that I was going to start last week, but will start this week instead. I have to say, I have written myself some deliciously evil workouts that I can't wait to try.
I have decided not to do any more training with Ty. The reason I hired him was to learn Olympic lifts, and although we have done some of that, he is not open to only doing Olympic lifting with me. I also found out that he is not a certified trainer, so his advertising is misleading. He states that he has studied under the NSCA and is a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), and he is not certified. He revealed this to me at my last training session, stating that he views certification as a technicality and that ultimately experience is what matters. I guess it is my fault for not asking him outright if he was certified, but I had asked him if he was a strength and conditioning coach (a title that usually assumes credentials have been earned), and he had said yes. Experience certainly matters to a degree, but as someone with in-depth knowledge of exercise science, the book knowledge does matter. This may explain some of his impatience with limitations and lack of writing individual plans for people. When I have written plans for people, it takes several hours to write the workouts. I find out where people are in their fitness, what they would like to achieve, and what they like and dislike about exercise in order to tailor a plan for them. Although I appreciate someone pushing me, I did not appreciate how Ty made me feel inadequate in a lot of ways. A good trainer has a balance of pushing someone to their limits while also being tolerant of that person's limits. I will train myself the way I would train anyone else--with a challenging program that respects the body's limitations. I think I'm capable of kicking my own ass while still being kind to myself.
I find myself becoming more resilient with age. Even with challenges to my routine or positive thinking, I seamlessly bounce back as soon as possible. I will be doing a year-end blog about what I have learned this past year, and it is probably more than I have learned in my entire adult life. Until then, I will watch the skies for the next celestial dance. The heavens may not be dancing just for me, but that doesn't mean I can't join in now and then.
Image from http://www.etsy.com/listing/42323085/origi
"Whatsoever that be within us that feels, thinks, desires, and animates, is something celestial, divine, and, consequently, imperishable."
Monday, December 05, 2011
I had said in my "Week in Review" blog that I've been in a funk with my saxophone playing for the past few weeks. I have barely played or practiced. I thought that it was because I was in a funk that I did not feel like playing. I asked MUSICALLYMINDED for some suggestions when I don't feel like playing, and she gave me some good ones. I made myself pick up my sax yesterday and just start practicing. I started a little grudgingly. As I continued to practice, though, I stopped having to force myself. I laughed when I made an awful mistake. I played for a little over half an hour and felt excellent afterwards. I was glad that I made myself get started. Just like I never regret starting a workout or getting to class when I didn't feel like it, I didn't regret playing. I felt like I had just done a yoga session or had a really good day at the gym--happy and satiated. I have probably been in a funk with my playing BECAUSE I haven't been doing it.
I tried to think back and remember if I have ever not regretted a binge. I can think of a couple of times where it really was "just that good," but only a few. I realize that I've spent a lot of time making myself do or not do certain things. Things in major areas of my life, like food. My all-encompassing food obsession left my other goals buried under a pile of frozen pizza wrappers and empty Doritos bags. My drive to get my next "fix" shoved everything else out of my mind. It's no wonder that I didn't exercise regularly or engage in any real hobby. Food was my sole hobby. The more I ate, the more I stifled my soul. Like most things that come on gradually, I don't think I will know the exact date that my mindset truly changed.
I was in the grocery store yesterday, my list clutched in my fist. I was only going to get the things on the list. I didn't like choosing between oranges and some fun fruit like a mango, but I stuck to my list. I got some whole grain pasta, tomato sauce, brown rice, and a bunch of produce. I was reading my list as I whisked by the candy and chips aisles, realizing later that I didn't have to stop myself from going down them. Normally I brace myself to have to put up a fight, to argue in my head about whether I want to or can buy some junk, whether or not to set up for a binge. Healthy eating comes the most naturally to me for the first time ever. It comes most naturally almost all of time. Sure, I've had weak moments with pizza, cake, or candy, but they are less frequent and severe than they used to be. If I have junk now, it is because it is something I really do want, and I don't eat something just because it's there.
I realized it had been months since I had walked through the grocery store with my stomach demanding one thing and emotions another. I don't get concerned about whether I can stay out of the chocolate-filled candy drawer at work--I've stayed out of it for over 2 months and have survived just fine. I don't worry about the need for a late-night trip to a 24-hour store to buy stuff for a binge. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago, I kind of made myself go to the store and buy a bunch of candy. Not sure what came over me, but somewhere in my brain I knew it had been a while. Afterwards, I didn't feel guilty, but a little baffled. If I actually have to make myself overeat, then it no longer comes naturally at all. This is probably somewhat proven by my lack of tracking regularly (I am not condoning not tracking--I've just been bad about it) yet maintaining my weight over the past month. My eating naturally adjusted when I wasn't able to exercise with an injury, and I generally ate healthfully.
I have been in a funk because I have been avoiding some of my healthy stress-relief outlets. I've put in a lot of workout time, but my creative energy has been stifled by avoidance. Writing is another outlet that I have been avoiding. Most of my blogs have been my "Week in Review" blogs, and I've been having to force myself to write those. I'm glad I did, because I like how blogging serves as a journal of this journey. But today the urge finally hit me yesterday to just sit down and write.
My creative energy may not always come naturally, but at least it doesn't get buried in a food hangover anymore. I stare longingly at a mango, my mouth watering, yet have completely forgotten to check to see if M&Ms were on sale. I may not make to the gym every time I mean to, but I know the difference between being too tired to go and just being lazy. I will never be perfect, and will sometimes get into a funk, but my mindset during those times has changed in a fundamental way. I recognize the funks quickly and can pull myself out. Even if I don't get all the way out right away, I don't let myself get derailed anymore.
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