Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Sometimes I ask myself why it's so difficult to lose weight when I know what I'm supposed to be doing. The answer has nothing to do with knowledge but everything to do with emotions. I've known this for years, but really want to understand more. I've been reading books and articles that focus on the psychology of being overweight, versus the "how to" type of literature.
I know these things about myself in a nutshell:
1) I eat when I'm celebrating
2) I eat when I'm depressed
3) I eat when I'm anxious
4) I eat when I'm stressed
5) I eat when I'm bored
6) I eat when I'm angry
7) I eat when I'm socializing
8) I eat when I'm alone
9) I eat when I'm hungry
10) I eat when I'm NOT hungry
For me, dropping weight requires a focused mind. I have to be in the right state of mind, where I believe change is possible and can manage the changes through small, consistent and sustained behaviors. Maybe I can't exercise 5-6 days a week, but I CAN exercise 3 days a week. Maybe I can't give up my BBQ (a fifth food group when you live in Kansas City), but I CAN substitute BBQ chicken for spareribs every other meal. Maybe I can't live without sweets, but I CAN try new lower-cal recipes that satisfy my sweet tooth. Maybe I can't be perfect, but I CAN choose wisely 90% of the time. Maybe I don't record my eating daily, but I CAN track my eating 3-4 times a week.
I am ALLOWING myself to NOT do this perfectly. It is amazing how free I feel knowing that no food is going to be off limits and that mistakes, lapses are not only okay, but permissible and forgivable. It does a lot to overwrite the negativity that creeps in my head.
I am now preparing for how I will cope when life gets in the way. When I am stressed, anxious and depressed and want to eat something junky--what behavior do I substitute instead. The answer? Housework. I know that sounds simplistic, but I've decided that dishes, vacuuming, making up beds, dusting or whatever else needs to be done is a good coping mechanism. I'm rewarded with a clean environment and getting a bit of exercise in the process. Household chores are mindless activities that keep me busy doing something other than eating. Plus, I can turn on my favorite music and just do my thing.
Other ideas are walks, pedicures, massages, bubble baths and, yes, a single glass of white wine (which I wouldn't do if I had any alcoholic tendencies).
So far this time around, I've dropped the 20 lbs I gained while unemployed. I'm looking forward to dropping the next 20 lbs and fitting easily into a size 14. My size 16W's are getting loose, so I will need to go shopping in another month or so.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Slowly but surely, I'm putting my life back together. I found another job. It doesn't pay as much as the one I lost, but I like what I do, my boss, my work environment and my co-workers. What's nice is that I get more than 2 weeks of paid holidays a year, and a month of vacation time.
I moved into more affordable housing, so I can travel, shop and do other things besides sit around and be house poor.
I am also now a grandmother to a beautiful baby boy, who has turned out to be a blessing. He is almost five months old, now and what they say is true; it's MUCH more fun being a grandparent than a parent. Plus, I am young enough that he will be grown before I collect my first social security check.
On the downside, I am now officially prediabetic. The diagnosis was a wake up call for me to get serious about my health habits. Since my diagnosis, I've dropped 15 of the 20 lbs I gained while unemployed.
I have a high school class reunion in 2013, so between my health and the reunion, I have more motivation than ever to drop weight.
No matter what obstacle life throws my way, I refuse to give up.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
(continued from Sept 11 blog)
I thought my troubles were behind me when I quit working for Miranda. After six years of employment and months of bullying, I snapped up the first job that came along. It was a small non-profit that provided human services to the poor, a cause that resonated close to my heart.
My initial interview for the position was with a man, whom I'll call Dick. Dick was a buttoned-down type with a sinister edge. He gave me the creeps, because there was something about his demeanor and personality that I found unsettling. My position would be reporting to his boss, "Antoine" who served as the organization's executive director. I briefly wondered why Antoine was not involved in the interview, but dismissed it from my mind.
When I got the job, I was elated because it meant no more Miranda and no more abuse. I had a large office, two direct reports and a part-time assistant. After orientation, I started to settle into my position. True, I had taken a 10% pay cut from the job I had with Miranda, but I was still very happy to be there and working for a great cause.
My troubles started almost immediately. I am an industrious worker, but even for me, the assignments rained down at a furious pace. I delegated what I could, but the workload was overwhelming and the job was much broader in scope that the job description. I tried to resolve this issue by talking to Antoine. Instead of responding directly to me, Antoine preferred to communicate through Dick, who served as his messenger boy. Antoine never stopped by my office to make small talk. He didn't seem to want to speak to me at all, which made no sense to me. One day, Dick said "Antoine didn't want to hire you; you are here because of me." Uh-oh.
Over time, I noticed many things about the organization that I found peculiar. Dick kept a photo of Antoine on his desk next to his wife and kids. They did seem unusually close; almost like brothers. The organization only had a $2 million budget, yet they spent $500,000 for directors to travel all over the place. Some of the supplies donated to the organization were useless, yet they were kept in inventory to inflate the assets on their annual audit and minimize their program/administration ratio. I was asked to allocate my timesheet hours to various restricted programs although I had not worked in those areas.
The organization placed little emphasis on helping the poor or on the quality of services provided. They kept no data on how many people they served and what kind of services they received. Although they spent $500,000 on travel, their information systems was running on a hamster wheel and ready to crash at any time. Anti-gay slurs were routine, and the Chair of their Board, whom people almost worshipped like some sort of demi-god controlled administrative decisions. There was only one other female director, but they wanted to demote her, have her report to me and get me to fire her to avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit. They also wanted me to fire one of my subordinates, which I refused to do until I could assess his performance on my own.
Overall, I was a fish out of water. I felt like I had joined this wonderful organization only to discover there was nothing but smoke and mirrors behind the curtain. The day I was given an assignment with an unrealistic deadline and no control over the work, I knew I was through.
The day we parted ways was low-key. As I'd mentioned in a previous blog, I handled myself with all the professionalism in the world after Antoine told me. He asked me when I wanted my last day to be. I told him "Today." I had several projects I had finished but not submitted. Why give them the satisfaction of my work? I packed my stuff and walked out.
Unemployment is a drag. Some days you feel worthless, other days you're optimistic. You have lots of free time to spend thinking, analyzing, job hunting, crying, bitching, pissing and moaning. You spend lots of time wondering how you ended up where you are at. You withdraw socially because you tire of providing a long answer to the basic question, "where do you work?" At a time when you need to become a networking fiend, you feel like staying in bed, eating ice cream and watching "Law and Order" re-runs.
I threw my healthy eating and exercise habits under a bus. I was too stressed out and consumed by the job search to focus on change. I made a conscious decision to put weight loss on a back burner until my life calmed down.
When I found my new job I was elated. I'm happy to report that I'm in a much healthier environment. It's a step back for me career-wise. I no longer have an office and no longer supervise. I'm also making 25% less than I did working for Miranda. But its nice to be in a happy, healthy environment.
How did I find the job? Networking, of course. I called a colleague for a job lead and she recommended me to her former boss. Turns out it was a woman I met 18 months ago while doing some civic group volunteer work. In addition, she knew one of the people I listed as a reference. Also, on the day of the interview I had a nice conversation with the receptionist, who told me last week that she'd mentioned how pleasant I was to the hiring manager. Throw in my education and experience, and they hired me.
I regained the weight that I lost at the beginning of the year, but I'm fortunate that the damage wasn't worse. I'm ready to refocus and strive to eat better and exercise more. Onward and downward!!
Sunday, September 11, 2011
On August 22nd after 20 weeks, 100 applications, 15 first interviews, 4 second interviews and one blessed offer, I rejoined the ranks of the employed. I have stepped down from the ranks of management back into being a writer, but I am relieved to be working again. The pay is less than what I made 10 years ago and I'm back in a cubicle after years of having my own office, but I thank God every day that it's a job I like.
Now that the hurricane that was my career has faded into a tropical depression, I'm left looking around at all the devastation and finding ways to heal.
I've spent the last few months turning my mind inside out trying to figure out what I could have done differently. I've spent hours analyzing stuff with friends, family, a counselor. "How did this happen to me?" "What could I have done to prevent it?" I tried to be honest with myself, so I can take the knowledge into my new job. Time and again, I came up empty.
Now that the dust is settling, I stumbled upon a simple truth. Sometimes sh!t happens and it has nothing to do with you. This realization that, like a hurricane, this was something I couldn't control or prevent was liberating. Two bad bosses in a row can really happen.
Boss #1, whom I will call "Miranda" was just plain crazy. I stayed beneath her radar for four years. During this time, Miranda had me on some sort of pedestal. I was "a star", the perfect employee who could do no wrong. I let her always be the smartest person in the room. I agreed with everything she said. I questioned nothing. I fed her regular compliments and criticized anyone who would dare to question her decisions, ideas or intellect. I told her everything she wanted to hear. I politely declined her repeated attempts to hug me. In return, I got fat raises, trips to national conferences, bonuses, a laptop, a flexible work schedule, memberships and subscriptions to whatever I wanted.
Then I changed. I had outgrown my job and asked for new responsibilities so I could grow professionally. I wanted more managerial latitude and decision-making. Her "mentoring" started to feel more like "micro-managing". I grew tired of Miranda tearing up everything I wrote with a red ink pen like I was a high school student. Her health had declined and so had her mind. Miranda descended into a level of craziness that was only visible to people in close proximity. When our organization lost out on a major federal grant, she snapped. Suddenly, I was the employee who could do no right.
In December 2009, I got a free afternoon off that was given to high-performing employees. In May 2010, I got kudos for being such a steady worker. In July 2010, she butchered me in a performance evaluation. The bullying was officially underway, and I was gasping for air. The pleasant work days stretched into an unending nightmare as she instituted the full array of a bully's tricks. She was enlisting all of my co-workers to help her build a file on me. She tore up everything I wrote, denied me time off, isolated me from my peers, fired and laid off some of my closest allies, and masterminded "conquer and divide" schemes to pit me against my co-workers. She reorganized my department and hired a less-experienced, less educated person from outside the organization to supervise me. They were paid twice my salary and joined her in the bullying.
I knew the HR director was in Miranda's pocket so I lawyered up. I found an attorney who leaped at the opportunity to take my case. Turns out I was the fourth person to engage his services against Miranda. She is Caucasian, all of us who lawyered up were African-Americans who she had either fired, demoted or bullied.
My health had deteriorated. I had panic attacks and my blood pressure rose through the roof. My colleagues outside of my employer didn't know what to think. They could tell I was not okay, but had no way to know if I was the one who had the problem or my employer. I took 30 days of FMLA. During this time, my employer of six years settled my complaint out of court for thousands of dollars and I fled to another position without giving notice. I thought my career nightmare was over, but it was just underway.
(to be continued)
Monday, April 04, 2011
I haven't been doing well on my SP plan. Since I lost my job, I stopped recording my eating, cooking healthy meals and I've only exercised twice in the last 10 days or so. I'm struggling to control the stress I'm under and get re-focused. I figured that the best thing for me to do is to log in and talk about it even if I'm NOT doing well. I'm actually not mad at myself because I've always known I'm a stress eater and losing your job ranks pretty high.
I'm really going through a string of bad luck. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR8KfMTmPRQ
Still, I'm still standing and refusing to give up. My best friend MOJOANDY called me up and reminded me to keep on keepin' on. I agreed. At the very least, I don't want to regain the weight it took me so long to lose.
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